Kindergarten teacher Erica Lehr reads ‘The Kissing Hand’ at Jackman Road Elementary School in Temperance. Two schools, Smith Road and Temperance Road, were closed in cost-cutting moves.
TEMPERANCE — The Bedford Public Schools Board of Education, meeting for the last time before classes started, received encouraging news about the district’s financial condition.
Chief Financial Officer Sharon Ramirez reported that early numbers indicated the strapped school system ended the 2013-2014 fiscal year with a positive fund balance of $510,000.
She said last week that the district’s outside auditor had begun its examination of the books and would continue this week. She expects to have better numbers for the board at its next committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 25.
The district was in violation of state law for years while in deficit and has struggled to bring spending into alignment with revenue, coping with declining enrollment and cuts in state support.
Cost-cutting moves have included the closing of two elementary schools, Smith Road and Temperance Road. Its original deficit-elimination plan on file with the Michigan Department of Education wouldn’t have lifted it out of the red until the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Any state declaration that the Bedford schools are out of deficit three years early will have to wait until fall, when the audit results are in.
Kristin Hearns and sons Cohen, 3, and Parker, 5, attend an open house at Jackman Road Elementary School in Temperance. Parker was getting familiar with the workings of his kindergarten class.
In other business, Bedford’s five schools continued to do well academically on the Michigan Accountability Scorecard last year, Edward Manuszak, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction and student services, told board members.
Each of the schools attained a green rating, the highest, in Michigan’s color-coded system, in the five areas scored: mathematics, reading, social studies, science, and writing. But the district’s ranking is still dragged down by two subcategories — “Bottom 30 Percent” and “Students with Disabilities” — which are overweighted in the state’s calculations to improve such students’ performance.
The state assigned the Bedford district a yellow rating for 2013-2014, the rough equivalent of a C if letter grades were used, unchanged from the year before. Mr. Manuszak told board members that this underrated Bedford, which continued to be a high-performing district.
To address the middling district ranking, he said, students in the bottom 30 percent in all buildings would be offered free test preparation. The district also would hire an educator to identify such students and coordinate an after-school program for the high school and junior high.
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