November 1, 2014

Planning prevents personnel cuts at AE

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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TWINING — Cuts made in the past allowed the Arenac Eastern School District (AE) to adopt a 2009-10 budget with no layoffs, but didn’t prevent the district from dipping into its fund equity to balance the budget.

According to a copy of the AE 2009-10 adopted budget, revenues are estimated at approximately $2.7 million and expenses are predicted to be about $2.9 million, preliminarily resulting in a withdrawal of $151,866 from the district’s fund equity, which was at $591,143 prior to the budget adoption, says AE Superintendent Rocky Aldrich.

But Aldrich thinks the actual amount taken out of the district’s reserves can be lower.

“I anticipate that (approximately) $151,000 will drop,” he said, adding additional cost-cutting measures may be taken before school starts this fall.

While many districts in the state, and in the county, are being forced to react to the uncertainty heaped upon schools due to a budget shortfall by the state, Aldrich says AE’s past decisions are helping the district to maintain its personnel now.

“AE has been pro-active and previously made difficult cuts in the past three years, anticipating these serious economic times we are experiencing statewide. At this time, we are not anticipating any additional layoffs with our current staff,” he said. “If we were reacting right now, I think we’d be in terrible, terrible shape.”

He added the district also had two teachers retire that won’t be replaced.

But the cuts a few years ago aren’t the only reason AE has been able to avert disaster in the middle of a recession. Changes in the school’s utility plan, says Aldrich, especially the decision to not heat the hallway in the winter, have also helped save the district money.

This upcoming school year, Aldrich says there will also be some savings in transportation costs.

“AE is teaming up with AGS for the Career run to BAISD (Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District). This will reduce our transportation cost,” said Aldrich in an e-mail to the Independent. “Last year we had our (BAISD) kids bussed to Standish.”

To be safe, Aldrich says he budgeted for $7,200 per pupil in the district, even though the state is yet to decide on whether or not it will allocate less than $7,316 per student, the funding received last year.

The budget was adopted at the AE School Board meeting on June 8.

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