Hillman projects big shortfall, layoffs are possible

HILLMAN — The 2019-20 budget for Hillman Community Schools is approved, but it’s not what the district wants it to be. Some employees could be laid off next month.

The district Board of Education approved a budget Tuesday with a starting cash-on-hand account of $514,634, but expects to have just $50,106 in that account by next summer, using the rest to cover shortfalls. The budget expects $4.4 million in revenue but $4.9 million in expenses, so the district would have to dip into its cash to make up the difference.

“This is a status-quo budget and we have to adopt before June 30, before the state tells us what’s going on,” Superintendent Carl Seiter said Tuesday. “What I’m proposing to do is having the board adopt this budget and then, in July, we detail what we’re going to do with the problems and the board votes on that.”

Seiter will detail a plan and have the board approve it at its next meeting on July 8, which will include a budget amendment.

“We need to close this gap and it ultimately will mean some people will be laid off,” Seiter said. “We cannot save $464,000 by cutting supplies. July will be decision time. Every outwardly collaborative venture is not going to give you savings.”

The biggest thing Seiter said contributed to the dim budget is an enrollment dip. The district is projecting 401 students for the 2019-20 school year, down from 411 the 2018-19 school year. That is a projected $133,807 loss in revenue.

Approximately $317,000 of the $464,000 shortfall comes from the loss of $10,000 in revenue from the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District for a literacy coach, and added expenses for more Science Olympiad programs, at $3,345 for stipends and benefits.

The purchase of two used buses for $30,000, along with an added $23,000 purchase for Skyward, a school management software system the district recently purchased, added to the expenses exceeding revenues.

There is also a cost of $27,000 for 27 Hillman students to travel to Alpena High School to take Career and Technical Education Program classes for the 2019-20 school year. Seiter said that’s a big cost for the district.

“A lot of things come at a cost,” he said. “An original budget is conservative-based, because we just don’t know what the state is doing. So, do I think it’s going to be that bad? No, but it gives me a large enough alarm that I need to look at ways to reduce the budget.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

In other business

The Hillman Community Schools Board of Education on Tuesday also:

∫ adopted the formal year-end evaluation for Superintendent Carl Seiter with an effective rating.

∫ approved to uncommit $30,000 of fund balance for elementary roof repair and $20,000 of the fund balance for major maintenance repairs since the district’s sinking fund passed in November.

∫ accepted the resignation of Bus Supervisor Charles May.