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Unknown factors may affect Alcona's school budget

June 13, 2011
Patty Ramus - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

LINCOLN - The Alcona Community Schools Board of Education was warned on Monday the proposed budget for the 2011-12 school year will be tight, but the district still has some unknowns on factors affecting the budget.

Business Manager Alan Shillair said the district will receive its three-year averaging funding, which will bring in $344,000 more in revenue than originally was projected. There will be a $470 per-pupil cut, which amounts to a loss of between $600,000-$700,000 in revenue. However, the district will receive a $100 per-pupil credit from the state for retirement costs, and this will be factored into the budget.

A preliminary budget presented to the board indicated the district would use all of its fund equity to balance the budget if it were passed as is. However the district cannot operate with zero fund equity, so it would have to be amended. There are no cuts built into the budget at this time because the district needs to wait for the results of its audit to come in later this summer and see if any employees take advantage of a board-approved early retirement incentive before moving forward, Shillair said.

"There's ways we expect to get additional revenue that we don't know yet," he said.

The board approved the retirement incentive plans for the Teamsters Local 214 and Alcona Education Association by a 6-0 vote later in the meeting. Board member Ken Chamberlain was excused from the meeting. Superintendent Shawn Thornton said the plans offer employees an incentive of $10,000 if they choose to retire early. Employees cannot be on layoff status or an approved leave of absence. They have until July 11 to take advantage of it.

Thornton said the district has a chance to recoup another $100 per pupil if the district can implement four out of five best financial practices.

The practices comprise making a public dashboard of financial indicators; competitively bidding for a non-institutional service in excess of $50,000; devise or continue a service consolidation plan; require employees to contribute 10 percent to their health care costs and the district becomes a policy holder for health care insurance.

Thornton said the first three practices are ones the district easiliy can do. Both of the last two practices require contracts that are already in place to be opened back up, which means the unions have to ratify language to agree to make those changes.

Those changes would need to be ratified by the unions prior to July 1. Without a formal vote, the board came to a consensus to direct Thornton to request the unions to consider the changes.

"It applies to every employee in our district receiving health care benefits," she said.

In other business:

Patty Ramus can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.



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