Wealthy community doesn’t stick to school budget – Michigan Capitol Confidential

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Birmingham District loses students and disrupts revenue projections

Birmingham Public Schools is located in a community where the average household income is $126,601 and the average price of a home is $652,151, according to Zillow. Even with above-average property taxes and a growing population in the city, Birmingham’s school budget is under water.

The school district has not allowed students from other districts to enroll by school choice in the past, even though the district has continuously lost students over the past decade. Its enrollment fell from 8,375 students in 2012 to 7,381 in 2021, a drop of 11.9%. Students who live outside the district boundaries can attend if their test scores and grades are good enough, but they must pay a hefty fee tuition. In the 2022-2023 school year, tuition will range from $12,375 for elementary school children to $13,635 for high school students.

Couple the loss of funding from reduced student numbers with inaccurate revenue projections, and the district’s budget is in the red. The original budget for the 2021-22 school year was expected to bring in $111.1 million, and the district planned to spend $122.6 million. However, the district only reported $107.8 million in revenue, which was $3.3 million less than expected. He spent $134 million, not the planned $122.6 million. In other words, revenues were 3% lower and expenses were 9.3% higher than forecast.

It appears that the district’s projections for the revenue it would receive from local property taxes were too high, while its spending projections for items such as salaries and benefits were too low.

“This case shows that being an exclusive school district does not guarantee the highest standards of financial management,” said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “It certainly didn’t help the bottom line of making the district off-limits to so many potential students.”

Embekka Roberson, superintendent of Birmingham Public Schools, did not respond to an email inquiry about the district’s plans to address the issue.

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