APS is right to protect its bottom line

Alpena Public Schools teachers, staffers, administrators, students, and parents have all made sacrifices to help the district’s budget.

Those sacrifices have yielded results.

The district has gone from $1.6 million in the red in summer 2014 to more than $4 million in the bank now, enough to cover nearly 10% of its annual expenses.

But, with the national economy looking shaky and budget battles in Lansing, Michigan school districts want to have enough in the bank to cover 15% of expenses, and others still are pushing for 25%, APS Superintendent John VanWagoner said.

Having that money helps districts pay bills and make payroll in the summer months between checks from the state without having to borrow and pay interest. And it would help the district weather any economic storms that could lead to cuts in state revenue or local property taxes.

So that means APS still has work to do. And it’s still making sacrifices — putting off building repairs and unnecessary purchases, for example, to try to add to its cash savings.

We think that’s the right thing to do.

There are some who see that $4 million savings account and say APS ought to spend it on the building repairs and upgrades officials say they need. That’s part of the reason why voters rejected the district’s bond proposal back in May.

But APS is right to protect its bottom line, to be ready for the next headwinds and protect what it has not only for today’s students, but for tomorrow’s.

We’re glad to see, as Goldberg reported, the community step up with donations for renovations to the high school football field, the purchase of student computers, and other investments that have helped the school offer a world-class education.

We hope such efforts continue, and we hope residents will see the wisdom in the district’s decision to continue making small sacrifices now so it won’t have to make big sacrifices later.