With A $10.5 Million Deficit, Muskegon School Board Hears Plan For Budget Cuts

Andrew Trzaska | May 18, 2011

Tuesday’s Muskegon Public Schools board meeting included a presentation by the acting superintendent on a plan to cut expenses to reduce a budget deficit of about $10.5 million that the district faces in the coming year.

Explained by budget committee officials as a plan “where everyone takes their share of the pain”, there are 28 line items in the district’s budgets facing cuts, ranging from closing swimming pools to day care programs to reduction of custodial staff hours and the laying off of teachers, parapros and administrators.

The next official public meeting to discuss these budget issues will occur at 12 noon this coming Monday, May 23 at the Board of Education building.

Notable items in the budget cuts (and what they should save) include:

  • Taking $2 million from the district’s reserve funds – ($2,000,000) – This leaves $500,000 remaining in the fund.
  • The elimination of pay for the district’s summer recruitment efforts ($231,000) – this may effectively halt the program
  • Close Kids World day care program termination ($65,750) – Tuesday’s presentation noted that there is a possibility of saving some aspects of the program.
  • Special ed reductions ($500,000) – the district foresees a drop of total students in the program and 5 staff members will be eliminated
  • Elimination of 5 administrators (427,000) – 25 administrative positions are funded by the district. 5 of these will be eliminated, and the budget committee noted that more may be cut.
  • Elimination of 30 teachers (2,040,000) – Previous proposals noted 29 teachers, but the number was adjusted at Tuesday’smeeting to reach 30
  • Reclassify co-principals as assistant principals (25,000) – Schools with this arrangement currently pay both co-principals a full principal salary. This would reduce one of their salaries and responsibilities to the level of an assistant principal.
  • Closing all three district swimming pools ($150,000) – with swimming programs being eliminated (see below), the pools will be temporarily, not permanently closed, according to Savage.
  • Restructuring the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program ($150,000) – “We are not proposing eliminating the program, but restructuring it,” said Savage.

 

Two plans for cutting athletics costs were presented as part of the plan. One of the two will be accepted:

  • Cut golf, swimming, tennis, bowling, sideline cheer, JV wrestling and JV soccer (100,000) – 71 female athletes and 27 male athletes affected.
  • Cut tennis, golf, swimming, JV wrestling and JV soccer ($95,000) – 33 female athletes and 16 male athletes affected.

Acting Superintendent Betty Savage noted in her presentation that because of Title IX gender equality provisions, the second plan might be the one acted upon because it is more equitable in its cuts between male and female athletes.

Board members chose to hold off on many questions until deeper explanations of the cuts could be presented by the budget committee next week.

Public inquiries at Tuesday’s board meeting focused on equity questions.

One parent pondered whether the cuts they were proposing were going to affect high-achieving students, average students or low-achieving students the most, and urged the board to consider that when making cuts.

Another parent expressed concerns about the over $2 million cuts to teacher salaries compared to the $100,000 cuts to athletics, questioning the district’s balance of education with athletics.

Budget committee representatives indicated that costs for athletics were generally smaller than teacher costs, and each area was still being reduced by proportionately large amounts.

Savage noted that after this year’s budget was solved, the district would likely look at restructuring the whole district’s physical layout.  A K-8, 9-12 system was mentioned, and with that building closings may occur in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

To view the full presentation from the May 5 budget meeting, click here.

 

Plus, to view a version of the specific cuts comparable to the one presented at Tuesday’s meeting, click here.


To view other meeting minutes, click here.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst

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