Archived Story

Cassopolis schools to lay off 2 teachers

Published 10:02pm Tuesday, May 11, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

CASSOPOLIS – The Cassopolis Public Schools Board of Education approved a proposal to lay off two teachers in an effort to plug a $1 million shortfall in next year’s budget. The move that was made at a board meeting Monday night will save the district an estimated $120,000.

Voting yes were George Calvert, Janet Hall and president Christine Locke. No votes came from secretary Susan Horstmann and treasurer Charlene Lee. Jeremy Carlisle abstained due to a conflict of interest.

The teachers that will be handed pink slips have yet to be determined, but they will come from Squires and Sam Adams elementary schools.

Cass is not alone in facing tough budget decisions and cuts. Niles Community Schools will lay off nine teachers next year, while Brandywine will give pink slips to 17.

The board also agreed to postpone a decision on whether to not renew contracts of seven non-tenured administrators – Food Service Director Robyn Bright, Ross Beatty Assistant Principal Hiawatha Francisco, Athletic Director Bob Guse, Ross Beatty Principal Tony Habra, Maintenance Supervisor Rosa Haines, Squires Elementary Principal Tracy Hertsel, Business Manager Scott Thomas and Sam Adams Elementary Principal Dee Voss.

The board has to make a decision on these contracts by June 14.

The board also voted on 11 other cost-cutting proposals at Monday’s meeting. The board approved reducing the transportation supervisor position to half-time, which will save the district $25,000.

Also approved were proposals to cut all general fund departments by 5 percent for a savings of $22,000; cut the athletic department budget by 5 percent, $13,500; eliminate a health room paraprofessional, $24,000; eliminate a Lewis Cass ISD paraprofessional, $15,000; freeze administrator contracts and spend $400,000 of the fund balance.

Several community members in the crowded Ross Beatty library spoke during public comments after the decisions were made, expressing disappointment in eliminating teachers.

Superintendent Greg Weatherspoon responded to concerns by giving out hand-outs to those in attendance with common complaints he has received and responses to each.
“None of this is fun,” Weatherspoon said. “We didn’t bring this on ourselves. We have these ugly scenarios because we’re not getting funded (by the state). We are doing the same thing all other districts are doing.”

Also on Monday, Cassopolis head football coach Andrew Hubbard resigned during public comment, upset with how the administration handled the firing of one of his assistant coaches last year.

The board also appointed Scott Ward as the new board member replacing David Weiss who resigned last month. Ward spearheaded the Ranger Pride campaign that was instrumental in getting the bond to pass that will allow for a new K-6 Sam Adams Elementary building.

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