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Albion School Board OKs budget with $1.48 million deficit


By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot

Talks of eliminating high school sports, reducing staff and eliminating transportation for students have become a necessity in Albion.

By a 5-2 vote Tuesday, the Albion School Board adopted a 2010-11 budget that will tentatively create a $1.48 million deficit and effectively wipe out the remaining general fund balance.

Technology Director Mark Deschaine explained the budget in detail at a 90-minute public hearing prior to the vote and said the district will now have to file for a deficit-reduction plan that will be implemented over the course of several years.

The 2010-11 budget includes expenditures of $11,801,847, almost $16,000 less than the 2009-10 budget.

Revenue will slip from about $11,108,000 to $10,323,000 because of declining enrollment and state funding, Deschaine said.

With the new budget, the district will spend the general fund balance of $671,689 and be left with a deficit of $807,565.

In suggesting ideas for immediate cuts, Deschaine brought up hotly debated issues such as eliminating high school athletics, reducing or eliminating transportation and considering the reduction of high school staff and/or library services.

Superintendent Frederick Clarke said the process of trying to balance the budget is only beginning, and he sees a need for more roundtable discussions and public hearings.

Board members John Helmbreck and Dan Skean voted against the budget, both citing a lack of adequate time to consider changes prior to the state’s July 1 deadline.

The budget committee received the proposal early last week, while the rest of the board was presented copies Friday,

“That’s why I voted no,” Helmbreck said. “I felt there should have been more community involvement.”

Skean said he thought the board should discuss the possibility of major changes to the budget prior to adopting it and wondered “why the board is just hearing about this now.”

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About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.

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