Less than a year ago, Superintendent Rod Schroder warned school board members that the district would have a budget deficit of about $8 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, and similar deficits over the next few years.
Schroder said the annual deficits could erode the district’s crucial fund balance by about $17 million in the near future.
Considering worrisome numbers like that, it’s likely that district leaders have taken a close look at their expenditures, to determine what they can cut without greatly impacting students.
If they haven’t looked at their travel expenses yet, that might be a very good idea, because it was very large in at least one recent year.
From July of 2016 through June of 2017, the Midland district spent at least $263,585.88 on hotel, airline and rental car costs, according to information provided to the district through a public records request.
The hotel total was by far the biggest expense – 106 transactions totaling $163,986.72, for an average of $1,547.94 per transaction.
Hilton hotels got a big chunk of the district’s business – seven transactions totaling $29,573.39, for an average of $4,219.63 per transaction. One transaction with Hilton (no date or location listed) cost the school district $16,000.50.
The Midland district also had seven transactions for a total of $16,662.97 at various Westin hotels. That averages out to $4,219.63 per transaction. One charge at a Westin came to $13,319.57.
The school recorded five lodging charges that did not list the specific establishment, and were categorized as “lodging – hotels, motels, resorts – not classified.” The total was $24,339.96, for an average of $4,867.93 per charge.
There was a single transaction at an unlisted establishment for $18,927.75.
The Midland district’s airline tab for 2016-17 involved 32 transactions for $83,435.66, which averages out to $2,607.36 per transaction.
The vast majority of the flights were with Southwest Airlines – 25 charges for a total of $73,242.92. That averages out to $2,929.72 per transaction.
There were single charges with Southwest for $19,670.16, $16,715.51, and $13,113.69.
Finally, the school district spent a total of $16,163.50 in six transactions with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. That averages out to $2,693.60 per transaction. There was a single charge for $12,368.60.