WLPS Financial Update
Last month the WLPS Board of Education was presented with another “clean” audit from our accounting firm. This audit was an affirmation of accurate enrollment predictions, good bookkeeping and consistent decision making relative to maintaining revenues and expenditures.
There are many measurements which go into earning a clean audit. One, in particular, that is straightforward and provides a quality barometer for financial forecasting is what I often refer to as the instructional fund balance: The amount of money we have available for instructional programming. It is heavily dependent on pupil enrollment and corresponding staffing levels.
You can see from the graph below how the fund balance dipped significantly from 2011 to 2014. This period was a time of drastic enrollment decline. As WLPS was able to stabilize its enrollment and get innovative with creating revenue, we have been able to steadily increase our fund balance. This accomplishment is rare and was noted multiple times during the presentation from the auditing firm. (Peer Group = Neighboring Districts.)
The State of Michigan requires districts to maintain a fund balance of 5%. While many districts across the State struggle to maintain this threshold, most districts aim to stay within the range of a 5-10% fund balance. To demonstrate our commitment to financial security and stability, last year the Board of Education adopted a policy targeting 10% as an annual fund balance goal.
Also assisting the growth and stability of our fund balance is the continuation of the 1 mill Sinking Fund passed by voters in August of 2018. The sinking fund protects the fund balance from unexpected costs for repairs and maintenance by providing a dedicated source of tax revenue for those expenses. And, important to our future, the fund can now be used to purchase technology devices for instruction and security.
Speaking of the future, the next investment for WLPS is an overhaul of technology. Servers and security cameras installed in the early 2000s will be replaced. Classrooms will be outfitted with student and teacher devices at every level of instruction in the district. Models of instruction geared toward personalized learning will become reality in the earliest of grades through high school.
I have long believed that our staff of committed educators outwork the competition year in and year out. Now, WLPS is poised, once again, to outfit these individuals with the tools to push beyond our current limits. It is exciting. And, we do it all while maintaining the quality of our facilities we have come to expect.
The Board of Education has been and continues to be focused on building a level of financial security that allows WLPS to not just survive but to thrive in this region. I am proud to work in Whitmore Lake and with an organization so dedicated to doing things the right way and look forward to keeping our community updated on our continued successes.