September 19, 2014

Standish-Sterling talks Snyder budget

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STANDISH — The Standish-Sterling Community School District is facing a net loss of income for the upcoming school year despite Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed increase to education spending, said Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski during the SSC school board’s meeting Monday, Feb. 13.

Under Snyder’s proposed budget, SSCS would be eligible for an additional $75 per student for fulfilling state-mandated best practices. It would also be able to get an additional $15 per student as an offset to retirement costs, added to an existing $100 retirement offset.

However, retirement costs are increasing faster than the proposed offset, Kroczaleski said, and the district would end up $65 short per student compared to the current school year.

Overall, he said, the school is going to be below where it is now financially without yet factoring in costs for fuel, wages, health care, and utilities.

“The retirement rate is higher than the incentives (Snyder is) putting out,” Kroczaleski said. “Even if we qualify for incentives, which I’m sure we do, it’s extra work.”

“Even if we do all that, we will have less money to run our district,” he added.

Snyder’s proposed budget comes on top of cuts to school funding for the current school year, Kroczaleski said, which reduced the overall funding per student the school received for the past few years by $470.

Kroczaleski said Snyder wants to keep funding at that new base — $6,846 per student — while adding the additional $75 per student.

“In essence, we’re working with less money to fund education,” Kroczaleski said. “It’s going to be a tough year if that proposal holds true.”

District best practices include publishing a community dashboard online, serving as a health benefit policyholder, participating in the school of choice program, monitoring student growth at least twice a year, offering dual enrollment and advanced placement courses, and offering online or blended classes.

Districts only need to fulfill five out of the six to receive the incentive funding.

Kroczaleski cautioned the board against jumping to conclusions, pointing out the governor’s proposal has not been approved by the legislature.

“Remember it’s just a proposal, and the devil’s in the details,” Kroczaleski told the board. “When you start picking it apart, you wonder what’s in there.”

He said any losses in funding would come from the discretionary fund, and while the board has not yet taken up the budget for the next school year, it’s something to work on.

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