The Wayland Union school district budget continues to improve every year and projections for next year are optimistic.
Finance Director Patricia Velie told the school board the fund balance for fiscal year 2017-18, which begins July 1, projects a $624,000 surplus in revenue over expenditures, which would bring the fund balance, or savings account, to 11.65% of the entire budget of more than $29.2 million.
Superintendent Norm Taylor, recalling a board mandate in 2014, said, “We’re getting closer to that 12% (fund balance) goal the board set several years ago.”
Velie, however, told board members, “I recommend using most of that $624,000 to pay off the final two years of the iPad program to protect our investment.”
Wayland two years ago voted to set aside about $640,000 to buy new iPads for grades 7-12 and offer the old units to K-6 classrooms at a 2.5% interest rate. Though her proposal would lower the projected fund balance, it would pay off a debt and free up money for other things.
The board will decide on her recommendation at its June 19 budget meeting.
Velie said the improving financial condition was helped by slight increases in student population and another mild winter that held down utility and snow plowing costs. And though it’s subject to change, word on the street is that the State of Michigan will grant an additional $120 per student in state aid.
A separate part of the budget that also is doing well economically is food service, which is anticipating an added $57,823 in revenue. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is recommending Wayland apply a 10-cent across-the-board increase in student lunch prices for next year.
The better financial situation also has caused Wayland to hire three new teachers for next year and a dean of students at Pine Street Elementary. All employees are expected to receive 1% increases for the next academic year.
Velie said he anticipates a surplus of nearly $17,000 in next year’s food service budget and noted Wayland is seeing fewer numbers qualify for free and reduced lunches.
In other business at Monday night’s meeting, the board:
• Renewed the 80%-20% health insurance agreement with qualifying employees. Taylor said it was his understanding that Wayland is the only school district in Allegan that still offers it and that others have gone to the “hard cap” system, which is more expensive for employees.
- Agreed to sell two school buses, one with a blown gasket and another with a transmission leak at a public auction later this summer. Velie reported the schools still have 18 buses in good working order.
- Voted to borrow about $1.5 million from United Bank at an interest rate of .20% from United Bank. The money handles a cash flow problem that occurs every year in late summer and is made up swiftly when state aid starts coming in October.
- Agreed to a request from the Wayland Education Association to chop two days off next year’s academic year ending in June and replace them with attending school Dec. 18 and 19 to ensure the 180-day state requirement. The 2017-18 academic year then will end on June 8.
PHOTO: Finance Director Patricia Velie