Ad Spot

Dowagiac School Board approves preliminary 2020-2021 budget

DOWAGIAC — Much of what the 2020-2021 school year will look like remains unclear to Dowagiac Union Schools’ board of education.

Following a budget hearing Monday evening, the board approved a preliminary general fund budget for the 2020-2021 school year. The board approved a general fund with revenues of $21,001,412 and expenditures of $21,901,741. Additionally, the board also approved preliminary school lunch fund and fiduciary fund appropriations.

Despite the numbers approved Monday evening, Stacy Ritchie, finance director, told the board that the budget would be subject to revision, which the board would likely vote on by December.

“There are a lot of unknowns,” Ritchie said. “I’d consider this a very base budget.”

The unknowns in the budget primarily come from an expected reduction in state funding following the COVID-19 pandemic. Ritchie said the district expects to see a decrease of $800 per student from the state in 2021. The district is also anticipating losing roughly 100 students next year, further reducing its state funding.

“There are a lot of things we just don’t know,” Ritchie said. “All those unknown factors will have an impact. … This is a flat budget. There are no extras in it.”

To help make up for anticipated reductions in funding, Ritchie recommended the board halt bus purchases and special projects for the 2020-2021 school year.

“We didn’t plan for any capital projects this year,” Ritchie said. “We’ve been replacing buses pretty aggressive since I started six years ago — we’ve replaced about one a year. So, to take one year off, we will be fine. Our bus fleet is in good shape right now.”

Outside of the budget, Superintendent Jonathan Whan said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to provide unknowns for the district. He said the district was still making its plan for the fall, but that the schools would follow any guideline laid out by the state.

Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer release a MI Safe School road map, which includes provides guidance on personal protective equipment, hygiene, cleaning, spacing, screening for symptoms, athletics and more.

Whitmer also announced $256 million in new funding to implement safety measures and signed an executive order requiring school districts to make three different plans for different phases of the state’s reopening — one for fully remote work, one for returning with strict restrictions and one with more relaxed protocols and additional flexibility.

Whan said administrators would be meeting soon to discuss plans for the coming school year, adding that the district is looking at all options, including full remote learning, full in-person learning and partial remote learning.

“We are going to incorporate [the state’s] plans with our plans,” Whan said.

Business

Event organizers, local dispensaries call inaugural Niles Cannabis Festival a success

Breaking News

Buchanan native Hannah Roberts takes silver in Olympics

News

PHOTO STORY: Inaugural Niles Cannabis Festival sells nearly 800 tickets

Cass County

Cass County Fair grand marshals are longtime advocates of the fair

Cass County

Fair organizers excited for fair after 2020 cancellation

Cass County

Fair guests in for a treat with main grounds entertainment

Cass County

COA’s Meals on Wheels program seeks delivery volunteers

Berrien County

Inaugural LIVESTRONG at the YMCA 5K to take place Aug. 7

Dowagiac

Purdue University Fort Wayne, SMC sign transfer agreement

Cass County

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department offering COVID-19 vaccines at the Cass County Fair

Berrien County

Law enforcement, state leaders warn residents to be aware of rental scams

Berrien County

Southwest Michigan thrift stores seeing sharp increase in donations

News

Niles Township approves document scanning project

News

Virtual archaeology lecture series ends with look into Chevalier family

Berrien County

Salvation Army welcomes new majors

News

Community turns out to raise funds for teen battling rare condition

Berrien County

Berrien County health officials urge COVID-19 vaccination for adolescents

News

New dog park, garden coming to the Niles Housing Commission

Dowagiac

Ascension to require COVID-19 vaccination for associates

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg looking forward to inaugural art fair

Business

Niles Planning Commission approves special land use request for marijuana microbusiness

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: July 26-28

Dowagiac

Southwestern Michigan College’s accreditation reaffirmed through 2031

Business

Gov. Whitmer Signs Proclamation Marking July 28 to Aug. 4 as Buy Michigan Week