2012-05-27 / Viewpoints

Chalk Talk

Times are tough all over………
By Mike Wallace, Superintendent St. Charles Schools

If you have listened to the news or read a paper recently you know that times are tough for schools all over in Michigan. School districts all across the state are laying off teachers and support staff to make ends meet financially. Local school districts all around us have “pink slipped” large numbers of teachers and support personnel. Although St. Charles has been very stable financially the last few years, we too are being forced to make layoffs and budget cuts to our staffs and buildings. Those staff reductions will mean that we have several fewer teachers and support personnel on staff this coming fall. Below are some of the reductions being considered and a public forum is being held on June 6th at the school cafeteria to gather input on these issues from the community.

District Budget: Our current budget for the 2011-12 school year will end up in deficit somewhere between $250,000 to $325,000 this June. Our projected budget for next year’s 2012-13 year currently stands over $500,000 in the red even after making the current staff layoffs. The district is in talks with all of our employee groups to work together to see how we might reduce costs and lower our deficit amounts. Our goal is to get our deficit under $300,000 before we set our annual budget at our June board meeting. We currently have approximately 1.4 million dollars in our fund equity (rainy day fund) and that will handle our current and projected deficits for the next couple of years. However, that trend must be changed if we are to remain fiscally responsible and maintain our past few years’ financial stability.

Academic Programs: For the 2012-13 year we will be reducing the equivalent of 3-4 classroom teachers this coming fall. Some teachers have been laid off effective June 30th and some who are leaving will not be replaced, they will be filled by internal transfers. Our building enrollments continue to decline the last few years. Because of this, we are being forced to eliminate some classrooms as well as offer few sections of electives. We do our best to reduce and shift staff to continue maintaining comparable programs and respectable class sizes for our students. We will also be reducing some classroom program support staff either through reductions to schedules or possible not replacing those who are leaving. The following year’s budget projections will necessitate reducing further teaching and support staff as well as eliminating at least one building administrator position. We will discuss looking at the possibility of becoming K- 6 and 7-12 grade level programs as our enrollment continues to decline and administration is reduced.

Transportation Program: This program has been reduced significantly the last few years and again we will continue to look at our bus routes and the number of stops we make to provide as financially efficient of a program as possible. Some students may be walking farther between routes again this year.

Athletic & Extra Curricular Programs: We are looking at our M.S. Athletic program and maintaining only one “A” team for our M.S. athletic programs. This would allow us to cut our transportation costs in half for M.S. sports. Many area and league schools already only have one M.S. team currently. We will again discuss freshman sports and how much longer we can retain them. Many other schools have already dropped their 9th grade programs and we search hard to find contests for some of our 9th grade teams to play a full schedule. We are also looking at reducing bus services for a variety of athletic events or programs with very small numbers as well as weekend trips.

Staffing, Materials & Equipment: We are also taking a look at possible further reductions in staffing from support personnel, district technology and central office administration. Cutting back on purchases of equipment and materials and postponing district capital outlay projects is another area being looked at for further reductions.

Depending on pending legislation being considered in Lansing, we may have to make some significant additional cuts to our school budget. The legislature is still fighting over what our school aide will be next year so projecting budgets is very difficult at the current time. All we know is that we won’t be seeing any increases in our state aide next year; we are waiting to hear how much we might be reduced.

In order to gather input on what areas the school community prioritizes further our cuts should be made to, we are scheduling a public forum to have discussions with community members about what areas should and shouldn’t be cut. The community forum will be held on Wednesday, June 6th at 6:00pm in the School Cafeteria. Anyone wanting to provide input into current and future potential cuts to our school programs is encouraged to attend this meeting. Further information will be disseminated to the community advertising the forum prior to the scheduled date.

As always if you have any further questions regarding any information in this article please feel free to call my office at 989-865- 9961.

Upcoming District events……

Graduation is June 1st this year and is scheduled for 7:00pm that evening. Graduation is a special time each year not only for the families of the graduates, but for the entire community as well. I wish all of our graduates the best of luck in whatever endeavors they choose to pursue.

I also want to share that at our Senior Honors night this past Wednesday evening, our senior class received over $400,000 worth of scholarships to a number of colleges and universities. Each year I am always so proud of our seniors and the large number of scholarships they receive. I congratulate them all on their accomplishments and wish them well in their futures.

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