TPS Board appoints new member, adopts $23.7 million budget
In its final meeting of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Tecumseh School Board appointed former trustee Debbie Johnson-Burgess to a vacant seat, approved next year’s budget, and bade farewell to retiring Supt. Mike McAran, thanking him for his years of service to Tecumseh Public Schools, including eight years at the helm.Two district residents had applied for consideration for the board seat vacated by trustee Matt Oren last month when he moved from the district: Kathy Koch and Debbie Johnson-Berges. Both were present at the Monday, June 24, meeting and Board President Ed Tritt introduced them. “We have two good candidates who have applied,” Tritt told the board and audience, and then asked each to take the floor to elaborate on their qualifications and goals as a board member, if she is given the nod.Koch, who is former president of the Friends of the Tecumseh Schools Orchestra, said that one of her priorities was to maintain a balance in the curriculum that benefits students through a broad offering of programs. She said that she believes in the “three As,” academics, arts, and athletics, as the keys for cultivating a well-rounded student.Johnson-Berges cited her experience on the board as one of her most important qualifications. She served five years in all and three terms as president. “As a former board member and an attorney, I think I can be useful in the times ahead,” she said.Tritt then asked each board member to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice, individually. Roger Hart named Johnson-Berges; Kim Amstutz-Wild, Johnson-Berges; Jim Rice, Koch; and Stanley Ames, Koch. With the vote tied 2-2, it fell to President Tritt to break the tie; he cast his vote for Johnson-Berges. “I believe we have two highly qualified candidates,” he said before announcing his choice, “but this time around, I think we need somebody who’s an attorney.”Tritt noted that the term was only for 18 months and that in the next election cycle, three seats will be on the ballot. That election will be the November general election in 2014. Terms have been lengthened to six years from four by state mandate that designates elections only on even years.The issue of the budget, though months in preparation, was by comparison a much easier decision. Director of business services Judy Pfund submitted a final budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, with revisions in total expenditures finalized at $22.8 million in the general fund. For the 2013-2014 general fund budget, a .77 percent rise in taxable value will produce a projected $23.7 million in revenue, but expenditures will exceed income by $242,333. Even with the projected shortfall, the district expects to end next year in the black with a fund balance of $4.8 million. The trustees approved the budget unanimously.The lion’s share of the district’s revenue is generated by the state foundation allowance (per-pupil funding), which is anticipated to rise slightly from last year’s $6,966 per student to $7,026. However, to put some perspective on that number, even with the $60 increase, the allowance does not approach the $7,316 that was received in state aid for each student in the 2008-2009 school year. Additional monies are available as “performance incentives, also known as “best practices,” a set of criteria recommended by the state that could add $70 per student to the revenues.A breakdown of proposed expenditures, by building, reflects the cost of salaries and maintaining each of the district’s six schools and the administrative services building. The most expensive building in the system is the middle school (including the pool) at $5,160,294 annually, followed by the high school at $4,788,466. A full budget report is available for view at the administrative services building, 212 N. Ottawa St.In addition to approving the general fund revisions for 2012-2013 and budget for 2013-2014 during the budget-hearing portion of the meeting, the board also unanimously approved:• Certification of property tax rates for fiscal year 2014• 2012-2013 community services fund final budget (which includes financing for the schools’ portion of the pool)• Food service fund• Debt services fund• Capital projects fundDuring the regular meeting, besides the appointment of the interim board member, the trustees also heard second semester discipline reports from the assistant principals of the high school and middle school, Angel Mensing and Greg Lewis, respectively.Mensing told the trustees that, overall, 2012-2013 had been a good year at the high school. “We’ve noticed a significant decrease in those numbers [violations],” she said after presenting the record chart for offenses and number of offenders. The largest category of infraction is “Leaving building/class without permission.” Last year there were 355 violations. This year there were 295.Lewis reported a similar decline in misbehavior. “Pretty much across the board, our numbers are down,” he told the trustees. As in the high school, leaving the building or the classroom without permission is by far the most common discipline problem. Students who violate certain rules face three types of penalties: Saturday school, in-school suspension, and out-of-school suspension. In all three categories of discipline, a substantial decrease occurred this school year.In closing, Tritt reminded those present that there would be no regular first meeting for the month of July. Instead, there will be a board retreat to discuss the goals of the board for the coming year with Supt. Kelly Coffin. The retreat will be at the administrative services building on Wednesday, July 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The next regular meeting will be Monday, July 22, at 7 p.m.