Preliminary audit shows Tecumseh Public Schools' fund balance of $5.2 million
Tecumseh School Board members reviewed the district’s preliminary audit at its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 14. Judy Pfund, executive director of finance and operations, reported that she expects the 2012-2013 audit, which will be on the next board agenda for acceptance, to receive an “unmodified” opinion. The designation is part of a new state law that replaced language that included achieving an “unqualified” opinion.
“The bulk of the report discusses the ending fund balances,” said Pfund, who reported that the Tecumseh Public Schools (TPS) General Fund ended with a $4.9 million fund balance, $1.4 million over last year. She noted that in the past the pool wasn’t separated as a special revenue fund.
“The pool has its own fund now and it has a $16,000 fund balance,” she said. Food Service carries a fund balance of $284,000. Combined, there is a $5.2 million fund balance for all funds.
Pfund said that auditors worked with the district, focusing on federal funds this year.
“Our financial position is good and our process seems to be working,” said Pfund. “The district is doing a good job, including at the building levels.”
“The auditor was very complimentary to Judy and her staff, and they should be complimented for the very good job they do at this,” said board member Roger Hart.
Director of Curriculum and Technology Todd Thieken also spent some time explaining the Michigan Accountability Scorecards and the state’s Top to Bottom Rankings. The scorecards are a replacement to the Michigan School Report Cards that were previously used to report Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
“It’s a new way the state is judging and gauging how schools are doing,” said Thieken, who added that with AYP, schools received letter grades, whereas they now receive color-coded rankings based on points in various areas, with green being the highest level, and red the lowest. He said that right now, TPS is ranked in the yellow categories. “So we’re at the middle,” he said. “This system makes it more difficult for schools to be compared to each other than with the letter grading. Across the county, the majority of schools are in the yellow category.”
Thieken explained that schools that score low in even one area can only reach the yellow rankings, and said one of the district’s trouble spots involves an achievement gap between the top scoring and bottom scoring 30 percent of students. “What the state is trying to get schools to focus on is closing up that gap,” he said, “to get schools to focus on what they are doing with the lower end kids to bring up the disparity.”
He said Tecumseh has exceptional kids in the Top 30 percent doing 100 percent work, but the district still has kids that are not trying or for whatever reason fall into the lower 30 percent. “Even high performance schools are having the same issue,” he said.
School board member Stan Ames said he didn’t really see the value of the measurement surrounding the gap between the top and bottom achievers and that it didn’t really tell people anything. “Once again, the state created something that doesn’t really measure the value,” he said. Board President Dr. Ed Tritt said the state would likely come up with something new in another couple of years.
“I think one thing about the top and bottom piece is that we know who those kids are, so we can do our own work, and what we do doesn’t have to be dependent on what they are telling us,” said Supt. Kelly Coffin.
“We’re focusing on the student level every time we can in order to try to lower that gap for them,” Thieken said.
He added a lot of the district’s focus is “kid-centered,” and not test-centered. TPS is using the data to look at not only test scores on the MEAP but comparing multiple measures of information. Staff are focusing at the student level for all interventions, and together are changing how School Improvement is working within the district.
He added that the district is also utilizing Title program funds for staff development tied to improving teaching and learning, and focusing on the evaluation process with principals who are in the classrooms of each teacher at least six times during the school year and have a follow-up conference with them the next day. The district is also continuing to use pacing guides that ensure all standards, whether Common Core or from the State of Michigan, are utilized.
In her Superintendent’s Report, Coffin updated the board on the baseball/softball field after meeting with a representative from the Friends of the Baseball/Softball group.
“They will continue with fundraising efforts and have been working toward that in recent weeks,” she said. “You may see work continue to be done on the field, but that’s not coming from district funds. All the money is being fund-raised. We do truly appreciate the hard work and everything that’s been donated in time and resources given to these projects.”