Muskegon Heights Charter Board Passes Budget; Mosaica Hires Regional VP

Andrew Trzaska | July 16, 2012

A full Muskegon Heights charter academy board voted through its new charter district’s budget at its monthly board meeting on Monday and also heard a report from Mosaica Education on its actions thus far.

The budget is forecasted to have about $14.5 million in revenues and only $7,000 left after expenses.  This budget assumes a 2012-2013 enrollment 1434 students, with a 40 student increase projected every year going forward.

Mosaica vice president for school finance Roger Gray acknowledged the small surplus size:

“Quite a tight number for a $14 million budget, but what we’re trying to do is give as much education as possible,” said Gray.

“The goal is to pour as many resources in the schooling as possible in the first year instead of building surpluses or deficits.”

Charter board president Arthur Scott noted the budget wasn’t perfect but ended worry for those in the district about what is coming:

“Your kids will not be handicapped because there’s not dollars to work with… That’s good news,” said Scott.

Teacher base salaries are set at $35,000 in the budget. Extra duty and coaching stipends could be picked up as well as incentive pay for other programs.  The planned student-to-teacher ratio is 25:1, not counting support staff on hand.

Other budget details shared at Monday’s meeting:

  • Mosaica will take a $1.46 million management fee the first year, with larger increases in Year 3 and beyond.  Authorizer fees paid to Muskegon Heights Public School, who technically oversees the charter system, amount to roughly $350,000 per year, bringing the combined overhead to about 1.8 million simply for having the charter system in place.
  • 11 at-risk professionals, 4 at-risk day security, a special education director and 14 special education teachers are proposed.
  • 13 Title I professional staff, 7 pupil support specialists including speech-language pathology, therapists and psychologists are planned for in the budget.
  • 2 guidance counselors, 4 curriculum instruction specialists no librarians are in the budget.  A head of school plus three principals across the four buildings are planned.
  • 4 administrative assistants and three part-time clerical aides are planned.
    4 maintenance staff and 2 full time maintenance apprentices are planned.
  • Custodial services will be contracted out and an RFP will be sent out under the approved budget.
  • 6 bus drivers are planned. No mechanics would be hired, and services would be contracted out.
  • 1 network manager would be on-site but most tech support for the district will be handled off-site by Mosaica’s IT department.
  • One board liaison will be hired, full time the first year than half time from then forward to make sure the board, the buildings and parents are all informed.
  • Health benefit increases of 10% for each year for returning teachers are part of the plan.
  • A large textbook budget exists for the first year, with a lesser budget thereafter as new books would be needed only as older ones grow out of date.

The budget will be the operating standard for the charter district for the coming year.

One Week Down, Seven To Go, Plenty To Do

Mosaica resident Gene Eidelman gave a short report on the district’s actions thus far at Monday’s meeting, which was full of several important announcements.

Eidelman elaborated on the district’s move to work toward year-round school year by the 2013-2014 school year. The 2012-2013 school year will be 192 days as Mosaica waits for approval from the state.

Eidelman also introduced Mosaica’s new new regional VP: Alena Zachery-Ross.  Alena is a Grand Valley State University and Wayne State University graduate who comes from Van Dyke Public Schools where she held assistant superintendent and middle school principal positions.

“I am so very excited to come to the Muskegon Heights community,” said Zachery-Ross. “I know it’s been a community of tradition and a community of pride and I am looking forward to meeting you… thank you in advance for making this transition one where students will benefit.”

Furthermore, Eidelman stated that over 100 student enrollment applications have been received, including some from districts other than Muskegon Heights Public Schools. All students formerly enrolled in Muskegon Heights Public Schools need to re-enroll, a fact he indicated may not be clear to parents yet.

Eidelman also noted that 200 staff interviews have already taken place, with more to come but many final interviews taking place in the next few days.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst