TPS receives audit, revenues down ‘slightly’

By: 
JACKIE KOCH

Tecumseh School Board met at its regular meeting on the Monday, Oct. 14. Photo by Jackie Koch.

An audit presentation, a transportation update, discussion on purchasing a 10-passenger van, and board committee reports were among the many items on the agenda at the Tecumseh Public Schools board meeting Monday night.

Auditor Bill Tucker from Maner Costerisan outlined items in the audit for fiscal year 2019. As of June 30, 2019, the district had a total fund balance of $4,733,783. The portions considered to be non-spendable, such as pre-paid expenses, leave the district with a fund balance of $4,423,861 available for future expenditures. “This amount represents approximately 15.6 percent of your annual operating expenses. That is down slightly from last year. Last year was about 19 percent of your annual operating expenses,” he said. He reported that the total decrease in the district’s fund balance was $967,153.

Revenue decreased in fiscal year 2019 by $339,000, or 1.4% compared to 2018. Fluctuations in revenue included a decrease in donations. Last year the district received around $89,000 in donations from the Elizabeth Ruthruff-Wilson Foundation and Sage Foundation, and did not receive similar contributions from those foundations in 2019. Decreased tuition revenue from other districts related to special education agreements was another significant fluctuation.

Total expenditures for fiscal year 2019 were $28,248,184, an increase of $203,000 compared to 2018. The biggest fluctuation in expenditures was an increase in technology purchases and additional aide positions.

Tucker reported that the district’s general fund revenues have exceeded expenditures in only three of the last five years, in particular 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Ben Newsome, location manager for First Student, gave a report on the district’s transportation situation. He said one of the issues facing the district is the national shortage of school bus drivers, so he is actively recruiting and has five drivers currently in training. He also said the app for tracking bus routes is not accurate. “That means the app that we have, which is the best app in the industry, doesn’t work,” he said, noting that the times on the app for student drop-offs are not correct. “We were about 95% incorrect when I started, we’re about 50% correct now. We are working ‘round the clock to fix those issues so no matter what the district does, we have that foundation in place, good drivers and good data.”

Board President Tim Simpson stated that the proposed purchase of a 10-passenger van would be for the athletic department to use for smaller teams such as golf, for transportation to competitions. Nikki Reinhardt, director of business services, said Athletic Director Jon Zajac had calculated that the athletic department could save between $2,500 and $4,500 per month on transportation by using a van as opposed to a bus. There is money in the general fund for such a purchase. She said although the van would be purchased primarily for athletics, it could also be used for other school activities such as solo and ensemble for band students.

Reinhardt said the district has joined My Deal, which is a purchasing consortium that specializes in various purchases including vehicles and bids on behalf of school districts. If the board approves the purchase, she and the athletic department can begin looking for a used vehicle. The board will proceed with a decision on a van after gathering more information, according to Simpson.

During board committee reports, Vice President Becky Brooks said the communications committee discussed the possibility of building administrators putting out a monthly newsletter, with teachers communicating with parents on a weekly basis. The goal is to increase communication with parents. She also mentioned marketing strategies for the district.

Board member Mike McNamara reported on the recent athletics committee meeting that covered ideas such as whether Tecumseh should stay in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Southeastern Conference (SEC). “Given our school size, we’re now one of the smaller schools in the SEC,” he said. “There are some concerns on how we can compete in basketball and football with bigger schools.” The committee also discussed youth sports participation and pay-to-play. He mentioned the poor condition of the tennis courts and the board discussed what could be done to remedy that situation. “A really good idea is proposing to create a hall of fame for former Tecumseh players or teams from years prior, asking the public for input on nominations and consideration for the wall,” McNamara said.

Secretary Kevin Johnson spoke about the maintenance and facilities committee, stating that the football field was a topic of discussion regarding the surface of the field, as were drainage issues of the softball and baseball fields. “One of the biggest items brought up in committee was the pool,” he said. He said the pool is currently closed due to a malfunctioning pump that is waiting for a part for repair, and was scheduled to be closed next week for preventative maintenance, which is hoped to be completed this week. The pool ventilation system has been an issue and he said two previous quotes to fix or replace the system were $100,000 and $600,000. “There was a big question mark as to what those quotes entailed and what was necessary and what was just wanted,” he said.

Joel Musielewicz, instructor for the Peer to Peer program at the high school, along with Trisha Howard, principal at Compass Learning Center and Lisa Shirk, Compass student support coordinator, presented a proposal for a sixth grade MAPS class incorporating the Peer to Peer program that teaches general education students about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and supports ASD students. The Peer to Peer program in the high school has offered many activities including dances, sporting events, bowling, and the autism acceptance baseball game in April, all designed to facilitate understanding and socialization between students.

During public comment, Nancy Gotham urged the board to purchase at least one, and maybe two passenger vans to accommodate the golf team and other teams and groups in the district. She also proposed selling more bricks at the athletic stadium to raise funds for athletics.

Rick Hilderley attended his first board meeting as superintendent and will begin his first day of work Monday, Oct. 21. “It feels great to be here. I’m very excited to get started next week,” he said.

The next regular board meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at Tecumseh High School.
 

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Tecumseh Herald

 

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P.O. Box 218
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