The Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education has approved trimming almost $600,000 ($586,750) from the school district’s 2008-2009 budget to address a nearly $1-million ($988,906) deficit – and more cuts can be expected.
In action Monday evening (November 17th), the board voted 6-to-1 to approve a resolution for a budget amendment that will reduce the anticipated shortfall to just over $400,000 ($402,156).
Trustee Pete Bennett cast the dissenting vote.
Adoption of the resolution resulted from the belt-tightening process underway in recent weeks to deal with the substantial deficit contained in the current fiscal year budget adopted in June.
In comments prior to the vote, Superintendent Roger Rathburn said, “I think we’ll need to come back and amend the budget again.”
Rathburn said a report prepared by Ric Peterson of PPSC, LLC “will provide us a lot of direction.” The 60-page report, developed by Peterson in the course of a project carried out during the summer months, will be used by the board and administrators as they look to the future and ways the school system might restructure and reorganize to become more efficient.
Rathburn indicated he has scheduled four four-hour meetings to delve into the report.
Board Secretary John Rentfrow, who voted “no” on the original budget when it was adopted in June, said, “I still don’t feel comfortable – I still see the negative number there – but I understand the circumstances.” He said, “I’d like to be a little more proactive than reactive.” He noted the uncertainty surrounding General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, and said, “I think things in the economy in Michigan are going to get a lot tougher before they get easier so I think we need to take that into account when we’re looking at the budget.”
Rentfrow added, “We need to live within our means. That’s what it boils down to. We’re expected to do that at home and we need to do that here.”
Board President Susan Schmidtendorff said that voting “yes” on a deficit budget “doesn’t mean that it’s okay” and indicated she thinks a balanced budget is “still our goal.”
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Dr. Bud Malinoski said, “I have a personal problem with dipping any more into fund equity. You really need to run a balanced budget.”
For another perspective on this story, click here for Jef Rietsma’s story in the Sturgis Journal