Cheboygan Area Schools plans for enrollment decrease, funding increase in new budget

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After a public hearing Monday, June 27, the Cheboygan Area Schools Board of Education approved the proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year beginning July 1. This budget includes $19.6 million in projected revenue.
After a public hearing Monday, June 27, the Cheboygan Area Schools Board of Education approved the proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year beginning July 1. This budget includes $19.6 million in projected revenue.

CHEBOYGAN — Cheboygan Area Schools is planning for an increase in pupil funding, a decrease in enrollment and upgrades to the high school.

The CAS Board of Education approved the school district's operating budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year on Monday, June 27, based on an estimated $19,593,488 in revenue and planned expenditures of just over $19 million.

The district, according to Superintendent Paul Clark, estimated a $435 per pupil funding increase.

Clark said he's seen a number of proposals with projected increases as high as $450 per student, but CAS chose a more conservative amount.

The school district also budgeted for a decrease in enrollment of 30 students.

"Which is consistent with what we've been seeing with student enrollment," Clark said.

Clark said there's been a steady decrease in the enrollment of students over the years. When he started with the district, the average graduating class had about 200 students. Last year's graduating class had about 112 students.

"So, we have had a decrease in enrollment almost every year," he said. "I believe that we are starting to level out, and won't see large drops in our enrollment."

Paul Clark
Paul Clark

The district has lost some students to Bishop Baraga Catholic School and Cornerstone Christian School.

"Decreasing numbers in enrollment are not just a Cheboygan issue," Clark said. "I believe that many school districts have had similar issues. Families are having (fewer) children."

Funding facts

The estimated difference between revenue and expenditures — about $593,398 — will be added to the district's general fund balance, bringing that account to $6,773,145 by June 2023. The fiscal year begins July 1.

"The fund balance is an accumulation of revenues, minus expenditures, that can be used in future years," said CAS Business Manager Laura Nestle.

"School districts should try to maintain a minimum 15-20 percent fund balance. Our 2022-23 fund balance is projected to be 35.65 percent. Like most other school districts, this is high due to the ESSER, or COVID, funds that still remain."

Several unknown factors remain, including additional relief funds for elementary and secondary schools under ESSER, which may require amendments.

ESSER funding is meant to combat financial stress districts experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. If amendments are made, the school board will need to approve them.

CAS receives funding from several different sources, including state and federal grants, local tax dollars, millage revenue and the Cheboygan Otsego Presque Isle Educational Service District, or COP-ESD.

School improvements

In its 2022-23 budget, CAS increased its food services allowance to accommodate for inflation. Clark said the district's food service provider saw increased expenses of 7 percent, with a budgeted 10 percent increase in food costs.

An additional $400,000 has been allotted for updating and renovating the kitchen in the high school.

"That is money that we have to spend," Clark said. "If we don't spend it, the state will recapture those funds."

Other budget plans include fire alarm upgrades in the high school and a new hoist in the bus garage. The last of the current series of bonds funding, totaling $693,575, will be used to upgrade the science labs in the high school.

Contact Reporter Kortny Hahn at khahn1@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @khahnCDT.

This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Cheboygan Area Schools approves $19.6M budget for 2022-23 fiscal year