By Kayleigh Rahn
Tuscola schools received a clean opinion for the 2018 audit.
However, while the books for the Tuscola school district were clean, Auditor Russ Leigh says there is still plenty of work to be done.
Leigh said the three main fund – education funds (with a $2.271 million balance), operations and maintenance (with a balance of $425,000), and transportation (with a $306,000 balance).
“As we look at those funds we’ll see they’ve all increased a bit,” Leigh said. “
The state recommends school districts keep six months of expenditures in the working cash fund (the fund most districts, including Tuscola, use a “rainy day” fund).
“You’re not quite there; you’re a little shy, but not bad,” Leigh explained. “I harp on fund balances, because of the political climate and what is going to maybe happen with pensions. To me it’s important if you can maintain those fund balances and keep them steady, especially in the education fund. That’s going to be key.”
Leigh noted that the direction of the state’s public education finances will be dictated in the November gubernatorial election. J.B. Pritzker has mentioned kicking back the pension expenses for certified staff to the local districts, while Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan isn’t clear.
“We’re going to see changes if it’s Pritzker and even if Rauner happens to get another four years,” Leigh said. “Those are things you’re going to have to look at down the road and see what happens. If brought that up to every board I’ve been to this fall.”
Other items for the board to continue to consider are declining enrollment, operating expenses, and potential property tax freezes, Leigh noted.
Of the 40 schools within Leigh’s workload, he said Tuscola’s finances are certainly not at the top, but they aren’t on the bottom.
“You’re in the middle somewhere,” he said, noting that the funds look much better than they did seven years ago, but there is still work to be done continue to grow the finances.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Oct. 24 edition of The Tuscola Journal.