State poised to step in if cuts aren’t made
CAPAC — Faced with a looming financial crisis, and the potential for State officials to step in and take matters in their hands, the Capac School District has taken measures to trim the budget while also working on increasing their fund balance.
If a plan was not established in a satisfactory manner, the outcome would have been less than desirable for school officials and the School Board.
Superintendent Jeff Terpenning, in his sixth year as the district’s top administrator, said the board took action at their most recent meeting to address the financial issue.
“The board wanted me to come up with some options and I gave them three or four,” Terpenning explained. “They chose the one that, when all is said and done, will save the district around $900,000.”
According to the Superintendent, the Capac district was dangerously low in fund balance with nearly five percent on the books. Typically, he said, “we like to try and be at least seven to ten percent.”
During the pandemic, the district had a fund balance of 26%.
A number of factors led to the decline of funds, including declining student enrollment and the loss of “COVID” money. Terpenning said, “Capac was given around $2.2 million in state money during COVID, to help with the hiring of additional staff for cleaning and anything else we needed, related to the pandemic. Mind you, it wasn’t just “given” to us. We had to submit requests and the state decided if they would release the money or not.”
Fast forward to this year, approximately two years after the worst of the virus and Capac was facing the issue of the money “sun-setting” this fall and no money in their general budget to absorb the loss of revenue.
“That state program let us get all new books, which we needed badly,” said Terpenning. “We did some other good things with the money, like security things, required cleaning supplies and we brought in additional staff to help keep everyone safe and healthy with our cleaning practices.”
The athletic program is not being scaled back or cut out, according to Terpenning, as had been rumored on social media, to be a possibility.
“The only cuts for athletics is we are not going to have any freshman teams, that saves us around $10,000, plus the $50,000 we save from the Athletic Director position.”
Terpenning said now that the COVID money is basically drying up, the board has decided to make nearly a million dollars in cuts to help balance the budget and restore some fund equity.
“Through attrition and the lay-off of four part-time custodial positions, we’ve started to make cuts, Terpenning said. “We’ve had some administrators leave and they will not be replaced, for additional savings.” He added, “Generally speaking, for every $100,000 savings, we add one percentage point to our fund equity.”
Athletic Director Noah Burgess recently resigned his duties as did one of the district’s high school co-principal’s who also handled special needs at the school.
Those two resignations saved the district around $200,000 according to Terpenning, and they will not be replaced.
The superintendent said the four part-time positions, and one maintenance position cutback, will save another roughly $150,000.
Terpenning himself has taken a $6,000 paycut, along with taking on the role of Athletic Director at no cost to the district.
“If I as a leader, am going to ask others to take cuts, then I have to be a true leader and take the cut as well,” he said.
Board members also agreed to lower their pay for attending meetings.