Muskegon Heights Academy System Budget Picture Holding Together

Andrew Trzaska | February 26, 2013

The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System’s financial picture appears to be improving, according to a report presented at Monday’s board of education meeting.

Board treasurer Darryl Todd noted in the report that the district was behind in spending its total appropriations for the year.  According to budget projections, the district planned on spending 36% of its total appropriation for educational services for the year by the end of December; however, Todd stated in the report that only 28% of the budget had actually been spent by the end of 2012.

Todd attributed some of the spending to lower than anticipated enrollment, but also to cost savings measures.

The report was truly ready for January’s board of education meeting, which was cancelled due to weather.

The news about finances could have been better if it was not offset by hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost overruns due to needed maintenance on the buildings that the charter operator uses. The district had planned on $230,000 in building repairs across the four buildings the charter academy is using. However, over $500,000 has been spent to date on repairs and maintenance, after initial inspections back in summer 2013 revealed more fixes than expected.

It should be noted the financials discussed at Monday’s meeting are those of the charter school district created by Dr. Donald Weatherspoon, and do not reflect the financial situation of Muskegon Heights Public Schools, whose debts remain in eight figures.

The moves have stemmed the district’s new debts but has not yet led to significant reductions in the principal the public school district owes.  While the public school district pays off that debt, charter operator Mosaica Education continues to provide educational services for the district.

Todd also discussed a new approval the charter district received from the Michigan Department of Education which will give the district funding to have more remedial instruction for students who are in danger of falling behind or failing out.  The amount could equal up to $600,000 and would be appropriated specifically to this purpose, under the state’s Title I and Title I-A laws.

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