Schoolcraft schools see increase in fund balance

The Schoolcraft homecoming court: Carly McGill, Andrew Enright, Madalyn DeYoung, Bennet Ellison, Camden Bruner, Jack VanDam, Queen Alicia Garcia-Martin, Noah Graber, Alexis Candler, King Tagg Gott, Jackson Parker, and Samantha Pavlak. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft school district has seen an increase of about $1.28 million this year that will add about $347,000 to the district’s fund balance. Finance Director Kendra Drewyor presented the information to the board of education at its February meeting.

According to Drewyor, the district saw an increase of approximately $400,000 in state revenue. Approximately $136,000 of that came from an increased pupil count, and an additional $117,000 came from at-risk funding. However, those weren’t the main drivers of the increase.

“That was mostly due to the cash from two federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, Drewyor told the board.

The district is getting about $200,000 from ESSER-1 funds and $358,000 from ESSER-3 funding, although those aren’t the only COVID-19 related funds. In total, Drewyor says the district will receive about $2.5 million in pandemic-related funding. The district used these one-time funds on a variety of expenses, including Chromebooks and virtual learning expenses.

However, many of these funds will run out in 2024 and 2025, and Drewyor cautioned the board that the district could experience a fiscal cliff in 2025 of around $480,000. It’s only a projection at this point, but she did note that expenses are outpacing revenue right now, mostly due to inflation. Drewyor wants trustees to start thinking beyond that and planning past 2025 now to reduce the possibility of that happening.

“I just want to kind of put that on our radar. Again, this is not happening today or tomorrow, or at the end of the year. But this is just kind of where things are projecting,” Drewyor said.

Drewyor also noted there’s a lot of unknown factors still in play; most notably, what the pupil count of the new elementary and middle school facilities will be. Another unknown factor is what the district will do with the old school facilities once they are no longer needed.

Both the board and Superintendent Rick Frens thanked Drewyor for her work on the projections. Frens noted they still have some time to look more closely at the issue and come up with some solutions.

In other news, the board approved five donations. These included a trailer for the robotics team and warmup jerseys for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. There was also a donation for the new slot car team.

The board then went into a closed session for the superintendent’s evaluation. Board President Jennifer Gottschalk said the approval of Frens’ contract would be taken up at a March meeting.

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