Tom Tolen /

The Brighton Area Schools Board of Education has approved an amended budget that increases the district-wide level of projected revenues to nearly $94 million, or $93,825,000.

That’s a whopping $6.4 million more than the $87.4 million budget originally passed The action came on a unanimous board vote Monday night.

Basic programs register a $3.1 million increase in the revised budget, while operations show a $1.1 million uptick. The revised budget is based on $90,552,000 in projected expenditures. Since the estimated spending is less than expected revenues, the amended budget also includes a projected increase in district fund equity, which is forecast to go from $9.2 million at the beginning of the 21-22 school year last July to a new fund balance of $13.3 million. That’s very near the district’s oft-stated goal of having an absolute minimum fund balance that represents at least 15% of the total budget. The substantial rise in the general fund is due mostly to a considerable increase in federal funding largely related to the COVID pandemic.

With the board poised to approve such a huge budget increase, Trustee Bill Trombley questioned the lack of a consistent oversight of district finances. Trombley criticized the wisdom of placing a revised budget with a $6 million increase before the board without what he called any “strategizing” by the finance committee as to the highest priority places to spend the additional dollars. In suggesting the matter should have gone before the finance committee in advance, he said, “We have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to oversee this." Trombley emphasized he wasn’t implying any criticism of Assistant Supt. for Business & Finance Michael Engelter, stating, "I’m not saying anybody’s doing anything wrong."

Superintendent Matthew Outlaw said the budget process takes place incrementally, all year long. “At every single meeting, there’s adjustments; that’s your oversight,” Outlaw said. He added, "The other part of oversight is the audit process, and this is where there are constant checks and balances." Outlaw said the “committee of the whole” — which consists of all seven board members — will begin meeting soon to discuss the budget for the 22-23 fiscal year, which starts July 1.