Members of the Ionia Public Schools Board of Education listen to a presentation via Zoom from Associate Superintendent of Business and Finance Adrienne Barna on the proposed 2022-2023 fiscal year budget during a special meeting on June 27. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

IONIA — In approving the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, Ionia Public Schools continues to sit in a comfortable financial position with healthy revenues, expenditures and fund balances. 

During a June 27 special meeting of the Board of Education, Associate Superintendent of Business and Finance Adrienne Barna, participating via Zoom, presented her proposed 2022-2023 fiscal year budget for the board to review during a public hearing before adopting it later in the same meeting (the budget must be approved and submitted to the state by July 1). 

Barna was pleased to report that her projected budget has the school district’s general fund balance sitting at $7,476,390 — or 22.15% of annual expenditures. 

Board policy is to not dip lower than 8% in the district’s fund balance and the Michigan School Business Officials recommend a fund balance that sits at 15% of total expenditures and the state of Michigan begins investigating school districts that report a fund balance less than 5% for two consecutive years.

With projected total revenues of $33,816,789 against total expenditures of $33,754,228, the general fund fund balance will see a surplus of $62,561 in funds.

Among assumptions for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Barna is estimating an increase of $400/per student for state per-pupil funding revenues, rising from $8,700, which would increase to $9,100.

“That’s estimated at this time,” she said. “The state has yet to approve a budget, but we’re expecting it to be somewhere between $400 and $450, so we’re taking a bit of a conservative approach. 

Last Friday, state legislators approved a budget proposal that includes a $450 increase to the state’s foundation allowance. The state budget, which must be approved by the state House, Senate and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, must be approved by Oct. 1. 

Additionally, Barna is estimating student enrollment estimated at 2,779 — a loss of 44 students from last year. 

“The graduating class of 2022 was a fairly large class,” she said. “As that class has moved through, the incoming kindergarten class, we are expecting it to be less than that.” 

Staffing levels for the 2022-2023 fiscal year will account for one teacher added at Ionia Middle School in addition to some long term sub positions filled with new hires and three special education paraeducators added for one-on-one student supports.

Capital outlay expenses include the purchase of four new buses, two of which were moved from the 2021-22 fiscal year budget.

In addition to a 2.75% off-schedule pay increase for union employees, Superintendent Ben Gurk asked that an identical wage increase be approved for non-union employees. 

“This will cost the district $84,048,” he said. “This cost was included in the budget for the 2022-2023 school year.”

Food Service Budget

The school district’s Food Service Budget will see a decline in revenues as less federal aid is provided. 

According to Barna, meal reimbursements will return to pre-COVID rates, which results in a reduction of 20% in federal revenue.

Additionally, a capital outlay budget of $475,000 has been established to update pieces of equipment at all buildings in addition to updating the Ionia High School cafeteria furniture.

Total revenues are estimated at $2,190,894 against estimated expenditures of $2,632,683, resulting in a reduction of $441,789 to the Food Service Budget fund balance. 

Despite that reduction, the fund balance will remain healthy at $710,251 (26.98% of annual expenditures).

2021-2022 final budget amendment

Prior to approving the 2022-2023 proposed budget via unanimous vote, with Board Trustee Roger Hull absent, the board also voted unanimously to approve a final amended budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. 

The final amendment to the budget saw the 2021-2022 fiscal year come to a close with a general fund fund balance of $7,413,829 (21.56% of annual expenditures). 

Revenues on the year at $34,828,094 outpaced expenditures of $34,392,393, resulting in a surplus of $435,701 to the general fund fund balance. 

In approving both budgets, no comments were given from the public, nor from members of the board.