By Jessica Mathews /

An enhanced deficit elimination plan and possible cuts were reviewed by the Pinckney Community Schools Board of Education.

The board met virtually last Thursday. For the upcoming fiscal year 2021/2022 forecast, it’s anticipated the district will need to identify $1.6 (m) million to align with its deficit elimination plan.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jamie Cowan said they try to keep cuts away from the classroom, noting the district has been very frugal. Cowan said Pinckney is still a declining district but noted expenses are fairly stable because they’ve been making reductions and adding efficiencies, including bringing back some contractual staff. She said the plan is to make some cuts for the next year so the district doesn’t grow the deficit in the near term. There is a $700,000 projected fund balance at the end of next year.

Cowan told the board the goal is to plan for the worst and hope for the best and it’s not a negative but rather preparing for any and all contingencies. Cowan said they went about right-sizing the district and had some really hard decisions last year that involved a lot of layoffs - 21 teachers and other support staff positions. She says that coupled with ongoing efficiencies, continuous improvement, innovations, utilization of grants, and new grants have given a different line to be drawn.

Revenue enhancements were detailed, which include increasing latchkey rates, facility usage rates, and pay-to-participate. Cowan said that community education is currently a separate fund but based on accounting, it doesn’t have to be. That has a fund balance of $100,000, which will be brought under the umbrella of the general fund. It was noted that the district anticipates getting additional dollars from state aid as well as COVID-related federal funding and grants – but the amounts will be better known at a later date. Proposed expenditure reductions include adjustments for professional, administrative, and support staff. Cowan clarified that doesn’t always mean cuts but reevaluating and restructuring things when people leave. Non-staffing adjustments include reducing supply budgets when there are fewer children in a building for savings, reducing operations, and reducing consulting and contracting fees.

The deficit elimination plan was submitted to the Treasury Department in January and Cowan said she’s optimistic it will be adopted soon.

Board action will be requested at the June 3rd meeting on the facility rates, pay to participate fees and childcare rates. Formal budgets are expected to be presented at the June 24th meeting.