SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(06/13/14) - ABC12 News has learned the Saginaw Public Schools deficit has jumped to $7 million, which is $4 million more than what was first projected. District leaders were counting on money from the state, but that money is being held up.
"Don't pull out your panic button, we have been in tough situations before, and we've come through it, we are going to come through this," said Dr. Carlton Jenkins, superintendent for Saginaw Public Schools.
Like before, it's time to work through the math, refigure the numbers and cut a deficit that seemed to grow overnight.
"It's roughly $7 million, we were anticipating $3.4 million," Jenkins said.
Saginaw School officials expected to erase $2.5 million worth of red ink using money lawmakers in Lansing promised for liabilities the district picked up after the dissolution of the Buena Vista Schools. The Saginaw School Board subtracted the anticipated funds from the deficit before they realized the money came with conditions.
"They discovered that there was some strings put on that money and they had to seek reimbursements, and offer documents to secure the reimbursements for the funding," said Bill Disessa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education.
Jenkins says he was aware there might be hiccups.
"This is no surprise. When we submitted the deficit elimination plan, the state worked with us, and said if we didn't realize all the $2.5 million, we had to look at other ways of closing that gap," Jenkins said.
There's also been another unexpected cost.
"During the rough winter, the utility cost went up significantly for everyone, just like for us, that was nearly half a million dollars," Jenkins said.
There is some good news - the $2.5 million from the state is still on table.
"The Department of Education is working with Saginaw on a reimbursement process, where they can then secure their reimbursement. They won't be losing that funding under the circumstances, so we can kind of shave that money back off of their deficit," Disessa said.
At this point, Jenkins says there won't be any new cuts to the budget.
"We are going to be fine," he said.
He believes Saginaw Schools will come out on top.
"We are looking for a sustainability plan. We are talking about sustaining Saginaw Public Schools and taking it to the next level," he said.
The district is looking to sell the empty Buena Vista buildings. If buyers aren't found, money allocated by the state will cover demolition costs. A new budget has to be submitted to the state by July 31.