COMSTOCK PARK-Comstock Park school officials are struggling to close a budget deficit that resulted when they based their 2000-2001 budget on expected enrollment growth. When enrollment unexpectedly fell 141 students short of projections, the district came up almost $700,000 short in payments from the state.

The school district's budget committee, created by Superintendent Roger Kropf, has spent 500 hours reviewing potential budget cuts and has come up with a list of possibilities, including cutting eight first- and second-year teaching positions, for a savings of $384,000.

A board meeting was held on May 14 to further discuss the budget and for the board to receive feedback from the budget committee and principals. Representatives of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy were in attendance and unofficially proposed a plan that would save the district at least $500,000 the first full fiscal year of the plan's enactment.

The plan would eliminate unnecessary overhead costs by outsourcing the school's non-instructional services such as transportation, food, and janitorial services. If the plan maintained the same or better quality services and yet failed to bring in at least $500,000, the Mackinac Center would pay the difference between that amount and the money actually saved.

The Mackinac Center is currently drafting an official proposal and reviewing the district's information in order to create an effective plan. The Center has made it clear that it will start working with the district immediately to resolve the budget crisis, but has received no response from school officials.