BERRIEN SPRINGS — Auditor Brian Wisneski has given the Berrien Springs school district a clean bill of financial health. Wisneski presented the audit for the 2018-19 fiscal year that ended June 30 at Thursday’s Berrien Springs school board meeting.
The district ended the year adding more than $4 million to the general fund, with revenue of $49.8 million and expenditures of $45.6 million. The district had initially budgeted for a small surplus of $31,000 for the 2018-19 year and had anticipated a $1.7 million surplus at the time of the last budget amendment in June.
Wisneski said his firm, Hungerford Nichols, gave the district an “unmodified” opinion after analyzing the district’s books over the last few months. “That’s the best opinion we can give,” he said.
He praised the district for having a healthy fund balance of $13.6 million, which is 29 percent of general fund expenditures. He said his firm encourages school districts to have fund balances representing between 15 to 20 percent of general fund expenditures.
Thursday’s meeting also featured a preliminary fall enrollment report. Last Wednesday, Oct. 2, was the official fall count day but districts have a few weeks after that to finalize numbers.
Business Manager Ellen Hasse said on campus district enrollment is down 19 students from last fall, and down about 40 students from what the district anticipated. But off campus enrollment is up 14 students from last fall’s count, and up 19 students from what the district anticipated. “Overall, it’s not too bad,” she said.
The board built its 2019-20 budget on an assumption of total on and off campus enrollment of 5,791 students. If preliminary numbers hold true, the total on and off campus enrollment would be 5,770 students.
Also on Thursday, board members authorized Superintendent Dave Eichberg to finalize the purchase of seven acres of vacant land near Sylvester Elementary School for $380,000. Eichberg said there is a signed purchase agreement with the property owner who wishes to remain anonymous. The closing could take place next month.
He said the property being purchased is behind Sylvester and near the Village Seventh-day Adventist Church. He said the property will give the district more space for parking around the Performing Arts Center, which will be built on the edge of the high school next year. It would also provide space for an additional practice field, as well as the campus drive that could be built in the future.
Eichberg said that while the $380,000 price tag might seem like a lot, it is comparable to the price being paid for other commercial property in the area.