BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. – Birmingham Public Schools discovered a more than $14 million mid-year budget deficit.
There are several issues, but the biggest is the district severely underbudgeted its operating expenses; Things like salaries and healthcare, by more than $11 million.
Despite declining enrollment, it also overestimated student enrollment and overcharged district property taxpayers by more than $2 million.
“Everything is on the table,” said Superintendent Dr. Embekka Roberson.
Despite the current financial situation, only one parent addressed the board.
“There seems to be no accountability going on here with the mismanagement of the budget,” said Maria Giancotti. “Several people have failed us as taxpayers parents but ultimately failed our children.”
Teacher’s Union President Amy Wagner addressed the board, asking that they remember one thing while they work on-budget solutions.
“In any school district, the people are the costliest part of the overall budget, yet they are also the most important,” Wagner said.
The district has brought in a new interim Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Dr. Maria Gistinger to straighten out the mess.
Dr. Gistinger told the board she is fairly confident the district will qualify for some $6 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to help backfill the budget. In addition, Birmingham has a $20 million rainy day fund that it can access between $3-$4 million to help as well. The district will have to figure out the rest and as well as move forward into next year’s budget.
As far as those taxpayers go, the district has essentially pre-collected next year’s revenue, so they’ll see a reduction in property tax bills.
“At the end of the day, we know all our stakeholders want what’s best for students, and that’s what we want as well,” Dr. Roberson said.