September 3, 2014

Arenac Eastern in the black for upcoming school year

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TWINING — The Arenac Eastern school board was able to pass a preliminary budget at its June 24 meeting that says the district will remain open and solvent for the 2013-2014 school year.

According to Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski, the district was able to achieve the necessary cuts to avoid being in the red following three senior-level teacher retirements and renegotiating its agreements with the teachers. Additional negotiations with the school’s support staff are still ongoing.

“It’s preliminary because we’re still in negotiations,” Kroczaleski said. “So with the teachers willing to make wage concessions, it allowed the district to maintain a positive fund balance. We also had some staff retire, which helped.”

He said the school district did not need to cut any offerings to students thanks to the concessions from the staff, nor will the school be closing.

“We didn’t really make any cuts,” Kroczaleski said. “The cuts basically came from insurance plan and wage concessions — the teachers (also) agreed to change insurance plans to save us money.”

“We’re really appreciative to our employee groups for making those concessions,” he added. “They stepped forward to help our district, and we really appreciate all their efforts and sacrifices.”

Kroczaleski said the school’s final budget will also depend on where the student enrollment numbers come in during October’s student count day. Schools in Michigan receive state funding based on two count days, one in the fall and one in spring. The October day accounts for 90 percent of the money received.

Final agreements from ongoing negotiations will also play a factor in how the budget ultimately shakes out, but Kroczaleski said based on the best information the school board has at this time, the district should be in good shape for the next school year.

“We’re going to continue just as normal for what we offer for classes,” he said. “We’re operating as normal, we’re not in a deficit, and we have a decent fund balance there. We’re just moving forward and scheduling stuff.”

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