TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools board members won’t support the Traverse City Bay Area Intermediate School District’s general fund budget for 2014-2015.
It’s a purely symbolic act because TBAISD officials are not required to take any action as a result, but it continues to shed light on TCAPS board members’ discontent with the ISD’s growing fund balances — such funds total at least $25 million — and lack of cash distribution to the 16 public school districts it supports.
TCAPS board members on Monday unanimously voted to oppose the ISD budget.
TBAISD Superintendent Mike Hill said the general education fund balance is about 36 percent, which translates to an estimated $4 million. The vocational education fund balance is about 50 percent, or $4.7 million, and the special education fund balance is about 37 percent, or $16.3 million.
TCAPS board President Kelly Hall said she voted to disapprove the ISD’s general fund budget because nothing has changed since the ISD’s Superintendents Association last year recommended the district start spending the accumulating funds.
“We’re not asking for anything more than we were asking a year ago. Nothing has happened,” Hall said. “There’s been no communication from their board to ours, their fund balances have grown, and TCAPS and other districts have special education and other needs that our students should be receiving the benefits of those fund balances.”
Hill said officials are focusing their energy on negotiating a contract with the district’s largest labor union, which represents professional staff, before tackling the fund balance issue.
“Once that is done we’ll take a look once again at all of our budgets and make decisions based on the long-term fiscal responsibility of the organization,” Hill said. “We continue to have concerns about all of our budgets because expenses are outpacing revenue.”
Last year TCAPS board members voted 4-to-3 to disapprove the ISD’s general fund budget, but this year’s vote was unanimous.