Cass City Schools updates budget proposal

By Eric Andreychuk
Staff Writer
CASS CITY — In light of a proposed budget deal from state lawmakers last week, Cass City Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Hartel outline an updated budget the school board at Monday’s regular meeting, citing a need to reduce the budget by $859,524 total with figures from a $773 per pupil cut.
The deal proposed by GOP lawmakers gives $100 per pupil back to schools from additional funds provided to the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System to defray costs to local districts.
The deal also increases per pupil funding by another $100 to schools that demonstrate “best practices” on sound financial stability.
According to Hartel, the state is asking districts to comply with four out five options that show these best practices. The state has not yet clearly defined these requirements, but several sources offer a rough idea of what districts could be facing.
The district does not pay on behalf of any employee a total amount that is greater than the state maximum allowable for health insurance costs. Most agree that will be an 80/20 percent ratio. The district must also be the policy holder for one or more of benefits given to employees, such as medical, dental, vision, pharmacy or long-term disability.
A district must also show that it is consolidating services and enter into an agreement with the Michigan Department of Education and report its plan once a year. They must also obtain competitive bids on services like transportation, food service, custodial and any other non-instructional service over $50,000.
Lastly, districts are to provide an online “dashboard” that demonstrates the effort to manage its finances responsibly and also be more transparent with information on all salaries, MME and MEAP scores, K-3 class sizes, general fund balance, total number of instructional days, graduation numbers and drop-out rates.
With these possible numbers in place, Hartel made changes to his original budget proposal. Administrators will pay 20 percent of insurance premium cost, while support staff will pay 10 percent of their premium, saving the district $30,400.
The district will also need to cut one administrative position and reduce one of the third- party contractors’ pay by 5 percent.
Other highlights of his budget that remain the same as before include: cutting summer school this year and next year; eliminating five teachers and two support staff; privatize transportation; eliminate all school-sponsored-field trips and reduce the athletic budget by $20,000.
The total reductions made in the proposed budget total $730,235.
Eric Andreychuk is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. He can be reached at [email protected]

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