Coronavirus Impacts Schoolcraft Schools

By Travis Smola

The effects of coronavirus are hitting districts across the state. At the Schoolcraft Board of Education’s June meeting, Finance Director Kyle Nixon told trustees how decreased revenue from the state will affect the district’s 2019-2020 general fund.

The meeting was once again held virtually due to the pandemic. Nixon said that with the state short on revenue, a cut in funding of $650-$700 per student is expected and will carry over until next year.

“We were expecting to be in the black by $300,000 and now we are expecting to be in the red in a deficit this year of $344,000,” Nixon said.

This would bring the district down to a $1.6 million fund balance, which is 14.2 percent of its final expected expenditures this year of $11.3 million.

Nixon did note that nothing has been finalized yet since the state has not balanced its budget. But he is not expecting any further cuts.

Nixon said administrators are looking at ways to operate “leaner than normal.” They are expecting to operate next year at a $70,000 deficit. That would put them at $1.53 million fund balance next year or 13.9 percent of expected expenditures.

The board also approved a roofing project for the maintenance building. Superintendent Rusty Stitt said the project just affected the flat roof portion which described as being in “dire need’ of being fixed. Stitt and the finance committee recommended South Bend-based Sherriff-Goslin roofing to do the job for $31,850. Trustee Jill Hunt asked about the possibility of adding a five-year warranty for an extra $535. Stitt and Vice President Jason Walther agreed it was worth the extra money and the measure was approved.

Hunt also gave a quick update on the status of the early stages of the bond project. She said early progress on the seventh and eighth grade classroom addition to the high school is already being done.

“We have completed a conceptual design,” Hunt said. “We had five or six options and we narrowed it to one.”

The facility planning committee has been gathering feedback from the community. Hunt said the top three concerns right now are a separation of seventh and eighth grade from the high schoolers, security and getting students into larger classrooms. She said the next step from June until the end of November will be the engineers and architects completing blueprints. These will be turned over to Triangle Construction in December with hopes of starting construction in March of 2021, dependent on the weather.

Hunt said they are still exploring options for the best location of the new gym for the seventh and eighth grades.

“We’re still being really conservative when we think about it,” Hunt said. “That’s why we’ve pushed that gym addition off until later and we’re focusing on educational spaces first. We already know physical education is covered by the high school gym at a minimum, so we’re going to focus on what is critically important to the school system and then we’ll proceed with caution on the pricing aspects.”

Board President Jennifer Gottschalk closed out the meeting with a reminder that four seats will be open on the board this year. Gottschalk said two six-year seats and one four-year seat will be open. Gottschalk said the deadline to register is July 21.

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