Dowagiac schools receive positive audit

DOWAGIAC — Auditors from Maner Costerisan gave high marks to Dowagiac Union Schools’ financial records during Monday’s board of education meeting Monday at Dowagiac Middle School.

The district received an “Unmodified Opinion,” which is the highest auditor opinion. Maner Costerisan reviewed the financial statements pertaining to all funds, general fund and non-major funds. According to the audit, the district did not have any issues of non-compliance with grants or regulations.

“We were just building a budget in June with the best information we have,” said DUS Director of Finance Stacy Ritchie. “Our budget had to be approved before June 30 but we didn’t even have all of the information regarding state aid until the end of August. We just did the best we could and tried to be as conservative as possible.”

The board passed a motion to approve the 2019-20 audit from Maner Consterisan.

“The staff was available,” said Tyler Baker, of Maner Consterisan. “They communicated early and often with us, and I think that’s why this audit ended up turning out so effective, especially during a time of uncertainty.”

According to Baker, the district’s general fund budget was estimated to experience a decrease of $1 million, but came out with a net positive of $437,000. The change in fund balance was a 6.4 percent variance with the final budget total expenditures.

The increase is attributed in part to the district not spending as much with schools shutting down in March. The district was also bracing for a possible $650 to $750 cut in per pupil foundation allowance and saved money when the actual cut was announced to be $175.

“We went with a conservative final budget due to not knowing how much the state was going to end up cutting from the school in August,” Ritchie said. “With expenditures, we weren’t running buses with gas. The buses weren’t breaking down, and the buildings were closed, so we were able to save there.”

The $437,000 increase gives the district a fund balance of $4.6 million. The Michigan Department of Education utilizes an 11-month payment schedule of school aid payments. The district’s fund balance is used to cover its financial obligations for the 12th month.

“The healthy fund balance allows us to not have to borrow against the state aide,” Ritchie said. “Since we didn’t have to do that, we did not have to pay state interest and fees. It gives us the cash flow needed to make payrolls.”

The district also had a bond refunding in the fiscal year, which is the concept of paying off higher-cost bonds with debt that has a lower net cost to the issuer of the bonds. Baker said that the bond refunding will save the district approximately $211,000 and will decrease its total debt service requirement by $125,000.

The district also received $2.5 million in federal awards.

“I really appreciate the work of Stacy and Superintendent Jonathan Whan working together in very difficult times,” said DUS trustee Ronald Jones. “Things were changing every day as far as finances. To perform this well speaks well to their efforts.”

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan 590,217 cases, 15,558 deaths

Berrien County

Niles Township Parks Board seeks public input at Wednesday hearing

Buchanan

Niles Scream Park seeks new nonprofit organizations

Berrien County

Updated MDHHS orders expand restaurant capacity, increase capacity limits, allow for expanded visitation at residential care facilities

News

Niles Township approves state-outlined poverty guidelines, purchases tractor attachment for trails, considers firefighter applicants

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD narrows superintendent search to two candidates

Dowagiac

Dowagiac art students complete Lego murals

News

Former surgeon given 10 to 40 years for criminal sexual conduct

Breaking News

UPDATE: Two teenagers injured in shooting at Niles hotel

Dowagiac

SMC unveils scholarship guarantee

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan 589,150 cases, 15,534 deaths

Business

Applications now available for Dowagiac’s Summer in the City Festival

Breaking News

Two shot, wounded at Niles hotel

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces healthcare hiring events

News

Niles Police Log: Feb. 18-25

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township Edwardsburg Police Log: Feb. 15-22

Dowagiac

SMC graduate experiences Super Bowl

Dowagiac

Dowagiac women aim to create change through local government

Dowagiac

SMC COVID task force leader talks with Dowagiac Rotary Club

Business

Niles roller rink reopens following legal battle

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces community wide survey to learn about COVID-19’s impact

Cass County

Cass County prepares to adjust to criminal justice reforms

Berrien County

Michiana Family Center seeks mentors for foster teens

Business

Nobo Michigan opens Edwardsburg location