Over the last several years, Hemlock Public School District has made significant strides with sound fiscal management. The school district has moved from a place of being perpetually financial unhealthy to a place 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.
Board President Matt Wesener said, “We made decisions years ago that we needed to commit to the long-term financial health of the district. That focus has allowed us to grow opportunities for kids in a safe and educationally aligned environment. It has also paid dividends in the recent bond sale as well as saving significant dollars over the last 4 years in not needing to borrow money. We are incredibly excited about our current situation and the position it puts us in for the future.”
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.
Board Treasurer Jamie Rivette said, “At Hemlock Public Schools we are committed to ensuring our district’s long-term fiscal viability. Our continued efforts are present in our 2021-2022 audit which was presented with no findings and an unmodified opinion, which is the best audit possible and praise for the district's business practices and business staff. We look forward to continuing our financial health so that we can be in a position to enhance the teaching and learning environment for all of our students and staff.”
The auditors noted, four school years in a row the school district did not need to borrow to be able to make payroll during the school year. This was a first in recent history, but now with solid practices and procedures in place it is becoming more of a trend with the district not borrowing for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023 school year.
It should be noted that borrowing is relatively common in 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 make payroll 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. We are investing in professional development, curriculum, and staffing to ensure the best outcomes for our students.”