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Open Letter to Parents and Voters of Southgate

 

—Posted by: Kristina Repp, Updated on: November 01, 2015


Every day, Southgate Community Schools serves more than 4,300 students in our community. As superintendent, I see first-hand how our students, teachers and staff, and parents continue to work hard to make our school district a place of pride.  Like many communities, our road has been challenging. I recognize the hard work and sacrifice parents make daily to get their children to school without the aid of busses, to contribute to our athletic, music, and extra-curricular programs, and to donate countless hours and dollars to enhance our programs and facilities. I recognize the hard work and sacrifice our staff has made to reduce our debt through wage concessions, to pay for supplies from their own pocket, and to volunteer thousands of hours of extra support and programming for our students. This is what our community represents, hard work and sacrifice.

It was recently announced that our school district is on the emergency watch list of deficit districts to be transferred to the Treasury Department for oversight. This announcement was fully expected and is required for any district entering a sixth consecutive year of a deficit. The good news is our district has taken decisive action to address and eliminate our debt. Southgate Community Schools has operated with a balanced budget since 2013. Reconfiguration of the district, employee concessions, more careful monitoring of our enrollment trends and staffing needs, and more timely response to changes in State funding have all contributed to improved fiscal responsibility.

Our fund balance debt load, as high as $5 million in 2012, has been reduced to $1.4 million as evidenced in the chart below. We are on track to eliminate the deficit by June 30, 2016. Recent changes in the law will require us to remain under State oversight until we achieve a fund balance of 5% of the General Operating Fund, or roughly two million dollars. Continued adherence to the approved budget and timely response to funding changes and student enrollment will enable us to achieve this goal.


We are currently asking the community to approve a $20 million bond, with no increase in the school debt millage rate, to fund critical needs, safety and security, and technology improvements. Many ask me what will happen without this bond. Our schools are like any house or building that is on average 58 years old. Independent experts have identified our most critical safety, security, and technology needs. They identified specific items such as roofing, flooring, doors and pavement that are simply beyond their useful life. With more than 4,300 students using these facilities on a daily basis, the wear and tear becomes accelerated. Without a bond we will be forced to replace or repair anything that breaks from our General Operating Fund, which will threaten our ability to continue to provide the highest quality of educational programming.

With interest rates at historic lows, Southgate Schools was able to successfully refinance its bonds from 2005 and 2006. This resulted in a present value savings of $2.9 million. We can apply this savings, over time, to the bond payments that would be required with the new proposed bond issue. We can offer the community an opportunity to approve a $20 million bond without creating an increase in the school debt millage rate. Approval of this bond will address our most important safety and technology needs, ensure that our school facilities are updated and in good repair, and allow us to continue to provide quality educational programs.

Our students, parents, and employees have worked hard and made sacrifices to help our district in the face of declining state funding. They do this in order to support first-class academic programs for all students in the school district. This bond provides much needed funding to improve facilities to meet that commitment. Please review additional information at southgateschools.com and contact me personally for any additional information. It is a great day to be a Titan.

 

Leslie Hainrihar, Superintendent

hainrihal@sgate.k12.mi.us

 

 


Originally Submitted
October 05, 2015



Categories: Yearly, District