Archived Story

Cuts expected in school budget following state’s decisions

Published 3:12pm Wednesday, September 30, 2009

By NORMA LERNER
Edwardsburg Argus

EDWARDSBURG – It’s not known where cuts will be made in the Edwardsburg Public Schools’ system, but cuts are coming. The State of Michigan is waiting until the last minute to let the schools know how much will be cut in school funding with the news expected to come by Oct. 1, if the Michigan Legislature passes its 2009-10 state budget.
Monday night during a meeting of the school board, Superintendent Sherman Ostrander responded to the unknown latest rumblings of a $240 per student cut which would mean $648,000 less to the district based on a student population of 2,700. After talking with Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, this looks likely although it’s up from a previous plan to cut state aid by $218 per student, Ostrander said. This would be on top of the 2009-10 deficit of $800,000.

There are several avenues to look at and this will require a workshop to look how deep “we can go.”

He plans to set up a work session with the board as soon as possible. They will look at whether to take the money out of the fund equity, reduce staff or possibly both.

“I made a vow I would not make anyone be laid off, but as of tonight I will not be able to keep that promise.” He added the Wayland District eliminated fine arts.

He presented the budget in June. “Now it’s October, and we are waiting on what the state will tell us what our budgeting will be.” Parents will be more concerned the kids get adequate supplies, academics and electives. The school lost 76 kids at $7,316 per student. “Those are issues we have to put up with right now. I don’t have the answers.”

He noted 15 years ago when he came to the district there was a $2 million fund equity. Now there is a $7 million fund equity, but it won’t last long. He said the school can cut pay or cut sports and there would be 300 to 400 parents here upset. He would prefer not to eliminate busing as “we need to get our children here. I wish I ha
d good news, but it’s getting worse. We may have to revisit some of the technology.”
He noted possible expanding into classes at Southwestern Michigan College for languages and getting college credits. Students are going to SMC and the Elkhart Career Center, he said. “We are willing to be flexible and look outside the box.” He asked for recommendations from the principals as well.

The workshop will be set and posted as soon as all board members are contacted for a date and time.

On the plus side, Ostrander said the enrollment is holding up. Jelinek said it will be a three to five-year journey, and the growth will have to be looked at carefully and controlled, Ostrander added.

In other areas, Ostrander outlined upgrades in the system. At the Eagle Lake School, upgrades were made this summer in the facilities system with total controls and expansions for air conditioning. There is new hallway carpeting and new tile in the main entrance and hallway. A huge heating unit was removed and replaced with ducts.

The alternative education added a 29-by-30 foot area with new computer stations. Next year there will be a credit recovery program introduced and possible tutoring. Future plans call for a statewide target program to be able to get a high school degree on line. Classes could be done at school or at home, but the program is not for all students.
Added was a writer’s lab at the high school, which the teachers are excited about. The library is being expanded to 60 stations that can be used for testing as well.

The business department added 75 new work stations. Edwardsburg is one of 10 percent of the state schools that has not eliminated its business department.

Security upgrades were also made at the high school.

Introduced was Abrah Klinge, who was hired as a special education teacher. She is from Holland and received her education at Grand Valley State University.

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