School board forfeits its pay, approves $62,474 reductionsPublished 11:01am Tuesday, December 15, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Forfeiting their pay of $20 a meeting this year and next won’t much dent an almost $1 million shortfall, but Superintendent Peg Stowers nevertheless appreciated the Dowagiac Board of Education gesture Monday night at Justus Gage Elementary School. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Hal Davis estimated those stipends would save $2,500 each year.
“You’re right, it’s not a lot of money,” Stowers said, “but every dollar we save is one less we have to reduce in the future, so I appreciate the board leading from the front.”
The school board approved Stowers’ $62,474 proposed reductions for second semester of the 2009-2010 school year:
• Eliminating part-time maintenance and grounds help, $3,000.
• Cutting three-hour extended morning paraprofessionals at the middle school and high school, $10,266.
• Eliminating extra privatized cleaning in a couple of buildings, $5,200.
• WEA grant funds in alternative education, $24,000.
• Eliminating all holiday trays, cards and retirement receptions, $4,000.
• Reducing summer secretarial hours, $2,250.
• Reducing building secretaries by five days to 41 weeks, $7,922.
“We’re also going to institute cost-avoidance things,” Stowers said, “like no overtime with the exception of plowing (snow). Our parapros will work student days only. Whenever possible, we won’t fill subs for second shift custodians unless we have athletic events or so forth. We’ll work with our athletic department” to trim Saturday bus travel.
“Wrestling, for instance, they go with their parents. We’ll work very diligently to eliminate use of general fund dollars for professional development, conferences and field trips. We’re going to discontinue NCA (North Central Accreditation) for the year” along with NCA second-semester chairs, saving $4,716.
Mark Dobberstein made the motion, seconded by Larry Seurynck, who moved to suspend board compensation.
“Nobody likes reductions of any kind. They’re not palatable or enjoyable,” Stowers said, “but these pale in comparison to what many districts are having to do second semester or for next year.”
“My professional organization says with these two cuts, $165 and $127, there will be 120 Michigan school districts in deficit,” Davis said.
“There are like 40 now. Our payrolls average around half a million dollars every two weeks. Add retirement and insurance – another 25 percent – and you’re up between $600,000 and $700,000. If you’re sitting on $3 million, four payrolls and you’re out of business.”
“Very few people realize the state was late on the aid payment last May,” Stowers said. “If you didn’t have fund equity, you had to go out and borrow.”
The operating budget for Dowagiac’s 2,450-student district this year amounts to almost $21 million, of which more than 76 percent relates to personnel costs.
Sixty-four percent of district revenue to operate the schools comes from state funding, based upon a per-pupil amount; 36 percent are local and grant funds.
Grant funds limit use of these dollars in a general fund.
Last year, Dowagiac received $7,316 per pupil in state and local funding.