From the 2013-2014 school year to the present, Hemlock Public School district has made significant strides with sound fiscal management. The district has reached a financial state recommended by the Michigan Association of School Boards and Michigan School Business Officials on par with peer districts and those across the State of Michigan.
Recently, the district had completed its annual independent audit, which was conducted by the accounting firm of Weinlander Fitzhugh.
School finance is a complex environment not often easily understood because unlike business, governmental, or school accounting usually involves different funding streams with varying requirements of spending. A school district relies on a general fund balance as a safety net for operation and to make payroll.
Treasurer Jamie Rivette-CPA, CGFM said, “The district’s efforts to turn around its finances have placed Hemlock Public Schools on sound financial ground. Our financial health is a great accomplishment, particularly because the district will save money by not having to borrow funds to pay our deserving educators and valued team members. We are thankful to our supporting community and the teamwork of our many employees that have worked so hard to push the dial in the right direction. We look forward to continuing our financial health in the upcoming years.”
The 2018-2019 audit was presented with no findings, which is the best audit possible and praise for the district’s business practices and business staff.
The auditors noted that the 2019-20 school year will be the first known time in recent history that the school district did not need to borrow to meet financial obligations.
It should be noted that borrowing is relatively common for K-12 public education in the State of Michigan, but not desired as it requires a school district to pay interest and redirect dollars that otherwise could be spent on educating children. Not borrowing to meet financial obligations will generate savings between $9-25k per year for Hemlock Public School District.
Superintendent Killingbeck said, “Hemlock Public School District is committed to putting our students first and foremost, which requires sound fiscal practices and maximizing our limited resource allocations. This is just another shining example of the leadership and vision of Hemlock Public School District Board of Education.”
Despite reaching these benchmarks, there are still needs that will not fit within the day to day operational budget, which is primarily dedicated to personnel (85-87%), which leaves little room within the confines of the general fund to address the need for updated windows, roofs, buses, and more. The district will continue to wrestle with how to deal with aging facilities and equipment.