September 16, 2014

AGS works around loss of students

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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AuGRES — The AuGres-Sims School District (AGS) is projected to lose about 15 students this year, however, some expiring costs are expected to help the district offset the loss for the 2009-10 school year budget, which was passed on June 15.

“AGS has several temporary costs that will expire with the June 2009 fiscal year, such as voluntary retirement incentive payments and the TIFA (Tax increment finance authority) repayment. This alone will mitigate the impact of the expected student loss, however, staff attrition and more 'tightening of our belts' have also contributed to a balanced budget for 2010.” said AGS Board member Bob Lutz via e-mail to the Independent, adding that although news of the cost expiration provided some stress relief, the work for the district isn’t over. “One of the primary focuses of the board and administration in 2010 will be to continue to find ways to improve our financial position. The federal economic stimulus money is preventing any immediate cuts in the foundation allowance. However, Lansing is already discussing potential major cuts in educational funding beginning in the 2010-11 school year and we plan to be ready for them.”

Lutz says the district doesn’t wish to disclose the actual revenues and expenditures that have been projected by AGS at this time, since the numbers from the state have been in flux from day to day, and the actual revenue coming in may be less than projected. He added the district doesn’t foresee having to borrow from its fund equity, which is slightly less than $100,000, to balance its operating budget.

“AGS has not borrowed to fund the operating budget in at least seven years and has no intention of beginning this practice. I believe it's a poor use of funds to take on debt and debt service costs to fund current expenses. Borrowing would only take additional money out of our classrooms and we need to do the opposite. My goal is to never borrow for the operating budget and the district has shown enough discipline to maintain this philosophy during these very rough economic times,” Lutz said.

Changes in district operations have allowed the district to avoid borrowing from its coffers, his e-mail said.

“We've cut back our Transportation Supervisor's time substantially and put off capital purchases of both busses and technology,” Lutz said. “Over the summer, a newer version of our facility-wide climate control system will be installed which will allow us to better control the temperature and other factors in each room of the district by the minute. I really have to give our Maintenance Supervisor, Mike Whyte, credit for taking such ownership of the energy management at AGS. He has been our driving force behind updating our systems to newer energy-efficient devices and ensuring the lights and heat are dialed back as much as possible.”

And while Lutz says increasing revenue at AuGres-Sims is out of the hands of the district, he says he hopes the introduction of all-day everyday kindergarten at AGS this year will attract more families and students to the district.

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