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      Escanaba Area Public Schools to adjust budget

      Decreasing student enrollment in the Escanaba Public Schools has officials looking for ways to adjust their budget and avoid future financial stress.

      Monday night's school board budget update show signs that Escanaba Area Public Schools could experience financial hardships. With a budget of $21 million, they are spending more than what they are making.

      "Primarily, we thought money would be coming in from the state, but the money has not been able to keep pace with the dwindling enrollment," said Michele Lemire, Superintendent.

      They have been over utilizing from their savings. In fiscal year 2008/2009, they had over a million in savings; now that's down to $773,095. So last spring, they cut $1.6 million from their budget to offset decreasing enrollment.

      "Now, we had a great surprise this fall--we weren't down as many students as we predicted. We thought that we would be down 48 students; ended up, we were only down five," Lemire said.

      In the last five years, enrollment dropped by almost 200 students. Currently the district is at 2,522, however, lower enrollments means less state funding. So the district is acting proactively to prevent any major future cuts.

      "We haven't made any decisions, as the board of education, to cut from one place and put in at another place. Right now we are monitoring the situation," Lemire said.

      Lemire will conduct a number of work sessions, looking to get input from staff on what cuts could be made without sacrificing programs. She also plans to work with the board of education and the city of Escanaba to attract more students to the district.