ELPS Finance Director Says District "In Pretty Good Shape"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 12:06 pm
Karessa Wheeler

East Lansing School District Finance Director Rich Pugh presented the Board of Education with a “quiet” budget last night, predicting a year when the District's revenues will be slightly ahead of expenditures.

With student enrollment stabilized in the District and a steady increase in per-pupil funding since the mid-2000s, the District is “in pretty good shape right now,” Pugh told the Board.

His presentation showed an overall budget of $38.3 million for the 2016-17 academic year. Pugh is anticipating $38,280,672 in revenue and $38,087,000 in expenditures. Increases in revenues came from an increase of $60 in state per-pupil funding, a slight increase of 18 students in enrollment and a flat retirement rate. At the same time, health insurance costs have increased 16-19 percent but Pugh said they are continuing to explore other options through collective bargaining.

Recommended expenditure increases will cover the costs for 2.15 FTE (full-time equivalent) staffing positions including new teaching positions for 2nd, 4th and 6th grades. The administration is also proposing adding half-time positions for special education instructional staff, a social worker for Pinecrest Elementary and a data support technician.

Finally, Pugh is recommending returning $194,000 to the general fund as surplus – a 12 percent return – which is a rate the District has not been able to match for a long time, he said.

The Board will hold a public hearing on the 2016-17 budget on June 13. The Board needs to adopt a budget by June 30.

In other action:

  • A public hearing was held on sex education materials for special education students. Mary Ellen Vrbanac, Supervisor of the Sex Education Advisory Board, is proposing two sets of sexual health education materials for students with developmental disabilities aged nine years old and older. The materials (books and videos) are “exactly what we were looking for,” Vrbanac told the Board. No one else spoke at the public hearing. The materials would be introduced into the 2016-17 school year.
  • The Board unanimously approved allowing Jeff Davis with Willow Adolescent Health Center of the Ingham County Health Department to be a guest speaker at the high school sex education program. Davis has been a guest speaker previously.
  • Kris Chapman, Director of Special Programs, reviewed the District’s current social-emotional wellness plan. New projects for next academic year include the introduction of the Ophelia Project at MacDonald Middle School to assist adolescent girls in dealing with conflict among their peers. In addition, Rachel’s Challenge will begin at the middle school to encourage students to undertake random acts of kindness.
  • Parent Donna Kaplowitz commended the Board for expressing support of the State Board of Education’s recommended guidelines for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgendered and Questioning students.
  • The Board is about to launch a community survey to gauge interest in a tuition-based preschool program. Trustee Karen Hoene said they hope to learn the level of interest and what types of programs families would like to see in the District. Unless they partner with a current preschool, it is unlikely a tuition-based preschool would be implemented in time for the fall 2016 semester, but one may be implemented later in the school year. There is some hope that it would be housed in the now-empty Red Cedar Elementary school but other options will be explored as well.