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RCAS has solid fund balance

October 8, 2012
Jordan Travis - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ROGERS CITY - An audit of Rogers City Area Schools budget from the previous school year shows the district to have a solid fund balance, and that's good news for school administrators as they apply to the state for more "Best Practices" money.

Members of the board of rducation heard the news from Mark Sandula, an accountant with Straley, Ilsley and Lamp, P.C., at their meeting Monday evening. He went over a report covering the audit of the 2011-12 school year budget, listing various budget items for the district that had increased or decreased compared to the previous year.

After hearing Sandula's report, board members voted on a resolution to apply for a second round of "Best Practices" money, which would give the district a boost of $52 per pupil. To qualify, the district must meet seven out of eight requirements on items ranging from seeking competitive bids for a non-instructional service to measuring student performance. Superintendent Kathleen Makowski told the board the district meets enough requirements.

Rogers City came into the 2012-13 school year with a fund balance representing about 17 percent of operating expenses, or just less than $800,000, Sandula said.

"The rule of thumb in this business is to have 10 to 15 percent of operating expenses" in a fund balance, Sandula said, adding that school districts should ideally have 60 days of operating expenses.

The district started the school year with about 62 days of operating expenses, Sandula said.

Overall, the district has done well staying within its means compared to other districts in the state, Sandula said.

"A lot of local schools are spending down their fund balance, they're bleeding from their fund balance, but Rogers City is hanging in there," he said.

While the state decreased school foundation grants, hitting RCAS for about $137,000, money from other state and federal programs helped to soften the blow. The district received around $55,000 for the first round of "Best Practices," around $42,000 to offset increased payments into the state's public employee retirement system, and roughly $51,000 for at-risk students.

The current school year's budget calls for spending some of the district's fund balance, Makowski said. At the same time, a second round of "Best Practices" money could give the district a bump of approximately $29,000.

The district also benefited from a few boosts in state funding, and the one-time sale of standing timber from school-owned land, Sandula said. During the previous school year, board members voted to sell some of the timber in the school forest for around $90,000, money that went into a restricted fund for academic spending, Makowski said.

After the meeting, Makowski said she was pleased by what the annual audit showed.

"I think the district did a very good job of sticking to the budget, and using resources to the best of our abilities," she said.

In other business:

Bober and Streich told the board about reading The Gary Paulsen novel, "Hatchet," with their class and visiting a nearby conservation club. While there, students learned about what it's actually like to survive in the wilderness and participated in activities like archery and building shelters.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.



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