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Posted: 05/08/13

RCS budget may reduce
teachers, ask for bus bond

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Community Schools Board of Education is considering multiple options to keep from busting out the red ink.
       Following a presentation of the latest budget projections on May 6, the board will determine what reductions and expenses will stay and go for the 2013-14 budget in order to approve a balanced budget by June 30.
       Using figures from the state, the projections show the district with a gap of anywhere from $2.4 million to $3.7 million in expenditures over revenue. In the worst-case scenario, the district would use up its fund balance and still be left with a deficit of $97,600, while the more favorable outlook predicts the fund balance to shrink to $1.6 million if nothing is done.
       Among the causes is an expected decline of 129 students for $958,728 in lost revenue, an increase in health benefits equating to $360,000 and a reduction in best practices funding by $36 per-pupil for a loss of $194,400.
       David Massoglia, executive director of business affairs, said most Michigan school districts will be cutting their budgets this year. Administrators provided a list of 13 potential reductions for the board to consider later this month.
       "We could literally be in deficit, if not next year, the year after that," he said. "We may have to make some really tough and not favorable choices."
       Three elementary teacher positions are recommended for removal for a savings of $225,000. Massoglia said the reduction stems from the district's projected loss of students. Similarly, administration suggested cutting one speech teacher and one special education teacher at $75,000 each due to declines in caseloads.
       An unknown expense in the budget could be a significant one. Due to federal mandates in health care calling for insuring 30-plus hour employees, the district may have an additional cost of approximately $150,000. Hours could be cut to avoid it, but Superintendent Nancy Campbell wondered if that was ethical.
       "There is a lot of talk about reducing the hours," she said. "I have problems with that personally."
       Other personnel cuts could include a 20 percent pay reduction to contracted coaches for $40,000 and reducing legal expenses by $20,000.
       Massoglia said bus replacement needs to be looked at next year. He said one option could be an expense of $200,000 for leasing 10 new buses, but a second called for a bond that would collect up to $5 million if approved by voters. Of the district's 54 buses, 24 need replacing in the next few years.
       "We're seeing a huge need for new buses, I think we've waited as long as we can," he said.
       Other reductions included slashing textbook funding by $100,000, cutting capital outlay for technology by $40,000 and a savings of $120,000 by reducing district-wide purchased services by 5 percent.
       Better energy habits could save the district significant funds. Massoglia said the district could pay $37,000 for Clarkston school's energy management staff to provide an analysis of Romeo High School and the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center. Massoglia said the savings could be anywhere from $20,000 to $140,000. If it proves successful, the board could consider an assessment of the entire district.
       Included in the budget is the decision on whether to go with a hard cap or to split health care costs 80/20 with employees. Massoglia said the 80/20 split would be favorable since it saves $484,000 more than the hard cap. The board will vote on the issue at the May 20 meeting.


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Retrieved 7/23/2014 at 2:19:34 PM.
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