By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Michigan Center Public Schools might be dipping into its rainy-day fund, but its mostly sunshine and rainbows compared to many of its Jackson-area counterparts.
While the district spent approximately $393,000 more than it took in for the 2009-10 year, the school board was pleased enough with the numbers Wednesday to adopt a continuation of that budget for next school year.
The district had expenses of $11.6 million last year and has a fund balance of more than $3.2 million — roughly 28 percent of expenses.
Superintendent David Tebo said it’s stressful anytime you are losing money, but he feels fortunate to be in a district that has set itself up for success in times of economic turbulence.
“My predecessors and my business manager and our boards of education prior to me have done a nice job of balancing the budget,” he said.
Tebo said while other districts are being forced to reduce programs and cut back, Michigan Center is pushing to entice parents to enroll their children in the district.
The school board adopted a plan that will be $393,000 in the red, but there are many unknowns.
Judy Johnson, the district’s business manager, said she took into account undecided per-pupil funding from the state, and that contract negotiations are just getting under way for employees. The budget accounts for a $400 per-pupil loss that could end up being $165 or less.
Tebo said he is hoping for change through the negotiations.
“The big thing for me is trying to control legacy costs and trying to get our health-care costs back under control,” he said. “By no fault of our own health care costs are rising out of control and we’ve got to do something to either cap what the district is paying or look at a different product that allows us to be flexible and do some things differently.”