Andrew Trzaska | March 12, 2012
Monday’s Muskegon Heights Board of Education work session revealed the general plan of attack for the district to pay back vendor debts.
Those owed less than $1,000 will generally be paid off first, then those owed less than $5,000, continuing upwards until those vendors owed the most receive payment.
Owing a total of approximately $4.6 million to vendors, amounts owed ranges from less $25 owed to Lake Vacuum and Appliance Center all the way up to several millions of dollars owed to MESSA, the Michigan public school employee health benefit not-for-profit.
Muskegon Heights Public Schools currently sits at $11.7 million in debt today, according to numbers provided by Marios Demetriou, deputy superintendent of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, which took over the business and finance functions of the district in January.
The district is also $3.2 million over budget for the year, and the MAISD projects the district will be closer to $13 million in debt by the end of the year.
Despite their deficit and the current review by a state-appointed emergency financial manager team, the district is looking to consolidate its list of vendors it owes by starting small and working its way up.
Demetriou cautioned that numbers provided at Monday’s meeting would be ever changing, as some vendors are paid off and new ones are added to the list.
A complete payoff of vendors is not expected in the immediate future, but squaring up with as many as possible to make the list more manageable is the goal.
“Our major problem really is cash,” said Demetriou.
More budget cut recommendations are coming soon, according to Demetriou:
“The current budget needs to be adjusted, which we will be doing in the next few weeks.”
Interim Superintendent Dave Sipka noted that Demetriou, Sipka and other district heads toured the district’s buildings, seeing if building consolidation would help next year’s finances.
No decisions were made at Monday’s meeting regarding budget or building changes, though Sipka indicated that at this time, the district is leaning toward not relocating elementary school students to the middle school.