Recent budget discussions at the state level suggest that public schools will be getting the largest foundation allowance increase in years, but, according to Saline Area Schools Assistant Superintendent of Finance Janice Warner, “the devil is in the details.” Funding for schools will remain flat or see a small uptick because the state is taking away funds in other areas, she said during the April 10 meeting of the board of education.
Warner made a presentation on the budget process and included data comparisons with nearby school districts of similar size that had a similar percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunches.
She noted that the three biggest “takeaways” from her presentation are that:
Student enrollment remains relatively stable but may go up slightly with more housing development.
Local revenue from property tax remains strong, and, with millages and bond issues recently passed, funding should remain stable for the next 10 years. State and federal aid are a relatively small part of Saline Area Schools’ budget.
A large percentage of Saline’s budget is going to instruction, since the recently-passed bond issue is taking care of infrastructure needs. Out of 830 school districts in the state, Saline typically ranks in the top 100 to 200 in terms of percentage of budget going directly to instruction.
Other interesting data points comparing Saline to other schools in the state finds that:
Saline teacher salaries are in the top 2.5 percent in the state.
Saline students have one of the highest ACT scores in the state, tying with Northville and East Grand Rapids.
Saline has about 399 students that attend private schools or schools in other districts, but brings in 501 students through schools of choice for a net positive.
Warner said she would bring the 2018-2019 budget to the board for approval during the June 12 meeting.
In other news from the April 10 meeting:
Food Service Director Lawrence D’Andrea announced that Chartwells, the food service company that Saline contracts to run its food program, donated $5,000 to the district’s culinary program to pay for training and travel to competitions.
The board approved having the Saline Area schools participate in the Michigan Competency Consortium.
The board approved the purchase of 150 MacBook Air and 6 MacBook Pro laptops for $153,024 and the purchase of 38 HP Elitebook laptops for $39,333.
The next meeting of the board of education will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 24 at the Liberty School Media Center.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. She has worked in community journalism for over 20 years covering education, business, arts & culture and other topics as a reporter, with experience in copy editing, layout, and proofreading.