EPS commended for having highest possible fiscal wellbeing score for three straight years

EDWARDSBURG — Edwardsburg Public Schools was recently commended for its outstanding financial responsibility.

Munetrix, a company that provides data management and analytics for local governments and public school districts, announced last week that EPS is one of 36 school districts in the state of Michigan that has had a perfect score on their fiscal indicator metric for three years in a row, from the 2014-15 school year through 2016-17.

“I think it’s certainly an honor for us to be recognized in that fashion,” said Anne Flautt, chief financial officer for EPS. “Our financial stability is really attributable to the leadership of our long-standing superintendent and our school board. They have been able to guide us through the process and enable us to operate with such great efficiency.”

Jim Knoll

The fiscal indicator score is determined by measuring school districts on a variety of different factors, most notably enrollment, balanced budgets and the size of their reserve fund. Districts are then given a score on a zero-10 scale, with zero being the best possible score and 10 being the lowest.

This approach is similar to a FICO, except instead of determining the reliability of a person’s credit, it shows how responsible a school district has been financially. Schools are able to use the metric to quickly ascertain if they are fiscally healthy or not, and see how different decisions they make impact their budget.

EPS currently does not use Munetrix, but Flautt does acknowledge that it is a “high-quality product” when it comes to determining a school district’s fiscal well being.

In order to keep on top of their finances, EPS stringently analyzes each of its expenditures.

“We are very critical of our costs,” said Jim Knoll, assistant superintendent of EPS. “We challenge what we spend money on all the time. If it doesn’t support our mission and vision, we don’t spend it. That’s a big part of what we do and we live that.”

The district also works hard to keep a consistent enrollment, which they have done successfully over the past few years, even though Knoll admits has been difficult to do in recent years.

“Generally, in the state of Michigan enrollment has been going down,” Knoll said. “It’s no secret that we get a lot of kids from districts around us due to school of choice. That’s because we offer a pretty good program. Our teachers do a wonderful job with instruction and we’re able to offer some really nice programs in addition to that. It’s a combination of a bunch of different things that are coming together that we’ve worked hard to make work for the kids.”

The only other area school districts that were included on the list of 36 were Watervliet, Schoolcraft Community and Plainwell Community.

Going forward, EPS expects to have a similar enrollment for 2017-18 and does not see its fiscal wellness changed. They still plan to be a zero.

“I would say that I think we’ll be fine moving forward because our community is big supporters of what we do here in our district,” Knoll said. “That’s another key component. They support us emotionally, fiscally and in every way that they can. I’m hoping that doesn’t change, and I don’t think that it will.”

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