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Birmingham Public Schools works to overcome $14M budget shortfall

Birmingham Public Schools budget shortfall
Posted at 6:39 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 18:39:58-04

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Birmingham Public Schools board voted Tuesday night to move forward with an amended budget after the district admitted to miscalculating it by millions.

Finance officials say the district is looking to make up a shortfall estimated to be around $14 million. The miscalculation led to overcharging taxpayers and has some parents upset.

“You continue to hide behind the public comment. You put up with us for three minutes at a time and ignore what we say,” one parent said during the Birmingham school board meeting.

Parents and teachers want answers from the board and Superintendent Embekka Roberson, Ph.D., about what is happening with the current budget for the 2021-2022 school year.

“And I believe you’re only doing it to clean up the mismanagement of over $14 million,” the parent added.

The shortfall in the district's budget is $14.3 million.

In a statement shared with 7 Action News, Roberson said:

“On June 22, 2021, BPS adopted a 2021-22 school year budget that estimated a $1.58 million shortfall. Upon assuming the role of superintendent in July 2021, the Board of Education and I immediately began a review of our school operations. Our recent work on the mid-year budget amendment process determined that the shortfall is actually projected to be $14.3 million due to discrepancies in both revenue and expenditure estimates.” 

- Birmingham Public Schools Superintendent Embekka Roberson, Ph.D.

Roberson sat down and discussed the situation further with us, calling the large discrepancy in the school budget frustrating.

“What went through my mind is a sense a frustration,” Roberson said.

Some may ask how the budget shortfall changed from $1.8 million to $14.3 million.

The school district shared a presentation with us that lays out the main discrepancies in salaries, retirements and health insurance benefits. Those numbers were underestimated by almost $8 million.

The district over estimated student enrollment, which is currently declining, bringing in $6 million less.

The situation is impacting taxpayers.

“Next year in the upcoming year, because there was an over levying this year due to projection of enrollment, their tax bill will be lower next year… they will receive a credit,” Roberson said.

They are filling the gaps with about $11.5 million in federal funds and $3.5 million from the district's rainy day funds.

“Moving forward, we are going through line by line making sure we are making adjustments for our current reality. Looking for operational efficiencies, looking at revenue generating ideas and utilizing grants,” Roberson said.

View the 2021-2022 amended budget presentation online.

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