HARRISON – The May 11 meeting of the Harrison Community Schools Board of Education got underway with some of the happier news available and under Information/Discussion, board president Angie Cullen announced the names of those graduating seniors who had received various academic honors. They included:
Co-valedictorians Lucas Cooper, Alyssa Shinevar and Taylor Smith;
Co-salutatorians Mattie Hollar and Jessica Jacobs;
Highest honors (GPA 3.8 or above) Hannah Cesal, Conner Haines, Brandi Kish, Elizabeth Lockhart, Patricia Wentworth, Karlee Greenfield, Julia Jackson, Sarah Kokko and Jennifer Slack;
High honors (GPA of 3.5 to 3.79) Taylor Budd, Alexis Head, Carla Smith, Travis Taylor, Alexys Carlstrom, Samara Rivas, Austin Stamper and Walter Worthing;
Honors (GPA of 3.0 to 3.49) Cameron Ashcroft, Sarah Buxton, Rose Duggan, Macy Ecklin, Jacy Ingalls, Emily Lipovsky, Alexandrea Warren, Julie Brown, Halima Cisse, Colin Dunn, Ivy Iadipaolo, Gavin Lawrence, Christopher Melnyk and Rebecca Umphrey;
Jackpine Conference All-Academic 1st team: Lucas Cooper, Mattie Hollar, Jessica Jacobs and Taylor Smith;
Jackpine Conference All-Academic 2nd team: Hannah Cesal, Karlee Greenfield, Conner Haines and Alyssa Shinevar.
Two additional Information/Discussion included the 2020-2021 Regional Instructional Services District budget and a 2020-2021 budget presentation. As of the May 11 meeting, the per pupil state funding for the 2020-2021 school year was at best “unknown.”
“The Michigan Department of Education last week put out a memo for the schools to start to prepare for possibly a large downturn in revenue by the state,” said Rick Foote, HCS superintendent. “We will know more as of this Friday’s revenue sharing estimate meeting, taking place in Lansing.”
He explained that with all the business shutdown, a lack of sales tax being paid to the state, resulting in an estimated $1 billion to $3 billion shortfall for this year’s state budget.
“And that’s not looking good right now for the General Fund and the School Aid Fund, at this point,” Foote said. “So, what the state and MPE is recommending to us now is to start looking at different scenarios to complete this school year and get into next year’s budgeting.”
Foote said budgeting is always a challenge, because exact student count is not always known, nor is the state’s per pupil foundation amount.
“It’s a scary time right now,” he said. “But they are asking us to put a zero-base budget in place possibly.”
Foote also said there also is a possibility losing $200, $350, $500 or worst-case scenario, a more than $650 loss of revenue to the student funding for this fall. He said the finance committee would be meeting to come up with scenarios as to what that might mean for Harrison schools, and what the schools may have to do in response.
“Obviously, I never thought – the way things were going the last couple years, we were making good strides and doing a good job putting in programs, putting more money into our fund balance, and to do some good things for the kids here – and this really worries me as to what might happen,” Foote said.
He said he did not know yet if there would be a proration for the coming year, which could mean the state reclaiming some of the foundation money from the current year.
“I hope not,” Foote said. “Because most of our expenditures have already taken place, which means we would be dipping more into the fund balance at that point.”
Foote told the board that there is now a plan to reduce some of the cleaning services, beginning at the end of May and into June, and to realign some of First Student services, all to save some money.
“I just wanted you [the board] to be aware there could be a major storm coming in funding from the state,” he said. “It’s not just going to be us, it’s going to be across the whole state, and some schools will fare better than others.”
He went on to say the position the board has put the budget in for the past couple years will be helpful, but it will not provide the main answer.
“It’s going to be a very tricky situation to try to come up with different plans and ideas,” Foote said. “Like I said, I never thought I was going to have to do this toward the end of my career – one more time. We did this back in the mid-2000s and late 1990s, and it was not a lot of fun.”
Foote said that he and business manager Janice Ranck would be putting together a new budget, which has to be completed by June 30. He said there has been inquiry made regarding pushing that deadline back to Aug. 31, but that would require legislative action and he has not heard any response on that possibility.
“We are hoping that some of the stimulus bills they’re talking about would be for some additional revenues for state and local government to backfill what monies and revenues we will not get,” Foote said.
Foote advised that he may have to seek board approval on things from trimming operational budgets in specific areas, to personnel, to himself.
“Nothing is off the table at this point,” he said. “If we lose $650 a kid, that’s going to be an extremely dramatic cut to your budget – knowing that we have to make sure the school is able to operate next school year and beyond.
Under Action Items, the board moved to:
First Year: Daniel Seefeld, Jayda Langlois, Sherrie Ingraham Leif Davis-Williams, Stacey Swartout, Ralph Kotecki, Stacie Crawford, Yvonne Schneider and Therese Cleary;
Second Year: Alicia Boursaw, Bethany Andrist, Mark Paredes, Tammi Lipovsky, Kerie Lynch and Kelly Cook;
Second Year: Jason McCrimmon (trustee Courtney McCrimmon abstained);
Third Year: Katharina Lange, Eric Vinciguerra, Corey Harwood, Robin Woodcraft, Lynn Morris, Lisa Hawley and Madison Wise;
Fourth Year: Nicole DeSoto and Tyler Judd; and
Fifth Year: Mick Haley, Alisa Winters and Michael Sova.
The HCS Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Monday of the month in the Board Room at 224 W. Main St. in Harrison.