GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan — Genesee County school districts have less combined savings than they did five years ago, but some individual districts have more, according to a review by The Flint Journal.

The Journal pointed to employee layoffs, school closings, enrollment swings and state aid uncertainty as things affecting school budgets during the time period.

The combined fund balances in the county's 21 local districts stood at nearly $76 million as of the end of 2009-2010; down by $25 million from 2004-2005 but up in some districts, The Journal reported.

Beecher Public Schools finished the year with a fund balance of $1.42 million, up from about $771,000 the previous year and a change from years of running a deficit, The Journal reported.

School accountants recommend that districts maintain a fund balance equal to about 15 percent of the operating budget, in order to maintain cash flow and avoid borrowing for basic expenses like payroll, according to The Journal.

Some lawmakers have tried capping district reserves, saying schools should spend money on students, not save it, The Journal reported.

“I don’t think any district wants to use up all their rainy day fund, because that is their only buffer that they have out there,” Kim Lindsay, a partner with Flint accounting firm Lewis & Knopf, which does school financial audits, told The Journal.

The Flint Journal, "Several Genesee County school districts increased fund balance in recent years; amounts still down more than $25 million," Jan. 29, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Proposal Would Punish Prudent School Districts," April 1, 2010