2017-06-08 / Local News

One teacher layoff likely in S-B

One member of the Suttons Bay School teaching staff may be looking for work based on the district’s proposed budget for 2017-18.

The Suttons Bay Board of Education will hold a public hearing Monday on a proposed spending plan that includes about $300,000 less revenue than this year and the repayment of moneys mistakenly given it by the state Department of Education.

The meeting is set to begin 7 p.m. in the upper level of the elementary school.

“We had budgeted on one teacher layoff last year, but we chose not to do that,” Superintendent Chris Nelson said.

But there may be no choice this year for the district. whose financial picture at mid-June 2016 looked a little more positive than past years.

Shrinking enrollment and some unusual financial “anomalies” have drained this year’s anticipated $230,000 fund balance to an estimated $62,000. And next year the nest egg could drop to less than $25,000.

The reasons are many, according to Nelson. However, dropping enrollment continues to negatively impact the school’s bottom line.

Projected revenue for the 2017-18 budget is $6,095,623, down about $300,000 from the current year, despite a $100 increase in per pupil foundation allowance from $7,511 this year to $7,611 next year.

“We graduated a class of about 50 and have about 20 kindergarteners signed up for next year,” Nelson said.

The proposed 2017-18 budget is based on a student count of 527, down from 540 this budget year. That factor alone represents about a $100,000 loss in state aid to the district.

“We’re graduating more students than we’re taking in and for the next several years, our demographic information puts our class sizes at 20 to 28,” Nelson said.

Some $6,134,087 in total expenses are outlined in the proposed 2017-18 spending plan. Just over $3 million is earmarked for instruction. Salaries comprise nearly half that amount.

The proposed budget also includes $100,000 for early teacher retirement, as outlined in the district’s contract with the Suttons Bay Education Association. The current contract expires at the end of August.

“We have one or two teachers who are eligible to retire,” Nelson said. “If they were to retire, (that) may impact the staff cut.”

The superintendent said layoff decisions would be made based on teacher evaluations and state certifications in concert with enrollment at varying class sizes.

“Once we get the budget approved, we’ll be sending out notifications so they can apply for positions elsewhere,” he said.

Some $2.8 million is earmarked for “support services” in the 2017-18 budget. The amount includes $705,381 for operations and maintenance, $516,699 for transportation, and $505,261 for athletics, technology and pupil accounting.

Suttons Bay had to adjust its budget by $275,000 in the present fiscal year to account for unusual payouts for two property tax-related issues. And one of these obligations will continue through the year 2022.

“At this time last year, we had $200,000inthebankanda4percent fund balance,” Nelson said.

Suttons Bay is one of three local school districts that had to pay back moneys overpaid by the state due to an error in the county’s reporting system to the state Department of Education.

The adjustment is the consequence of a correction in Leelanau County’s reported local property tax revenue, which is based on local property taxable values.

Overpayments were made between 2006 and 2010 and pre-date the current county treasurer’s office.

Suttons Bay is obligated to pay $50,000 to the state in each of the next five years to make up the overage.

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