Edwardsburg superintendent urges public to contact legislators about looming cutsPublished 4:16pm Wednesday, October 28, 2009
By NORMA LERNER
Edwardsburg Superintendent Sherman Ostrander is urging school staff members and parents to contact their legislators about the importance of not making any more student aid cuts to school districts.
The schools got cut $165 per pupil already, and it’s possible another hit of $127 could take place, he said during a school board meeting Monday. This is because school funding is $212 million short, with the governor asking for recommendations to address the shortfall.
In a letter from the Michigan House Fiscal Agency dated last week, it stated the state budget director gave notice to the Legislature that the department will prorate payments as required by the School Aid Act. This proration will reduce a district’s total state aid payment by approximate $127 per pupil, and the intermediate school districts will get cut by $8.8 million.
Ostrander said the Legislature has 30 days to appropriate additional funds or reduce appropriations by either reducing or eliminating specific programs to avoid a proration. The Legislature would need to act by Nov. 21, he said, to avert the proration. If no action is taken, schools and intermediate school districts will see a reduction in state aid. The Lewis Cass Intermediate District would lose $105,314.
Ostrander asked board members to look at the state report. “It’s not good news. How much is too much; how much is enough?” he questioned.
Ostrander also touched on talk about districts merging. He mentioned several scenarios that could happen and said, “I don t know where it’s going to go. There is a push for consolidated systems. You cannot abandon education.”
The board also approved its financial audit for the year ending June 30. It was presented by Seth Timmons of Gerbel & Co., P.C. Of St. Joseph. He said the audit shows an unqualified opinion, meaning it is clean and has no qualifications.
“It’s the best opinion you can get,” he said. The school is in “excellent financial condition with a healthy fund balance.” He advised the school to continue to operate conservatively to meet its obligations. Patzer said to carry a large fund balance is appropriate based on the present economy.