Privatization Voted Down in Lakeview (Montcalm County)

LAKEVIEW — Lakeview Community Schools in Montcalm County recently considered privatizing non-essential services as one way of grappling with an expected $1.2 million budget deficit for the fiscal 2007 school year. At an April 17 special meeting of the Lakeview school board, the idea was shelved.

Dixie Pope, business manager for the district, told Michigan Privatization Report that the district would instead shed employees and added that progress had been made on deciding precisely where to cut. The district intends to lay off six teachers, one counselor, one social worker, three secretaries and many paraprofessionals who work as classroom and library aides.

Greenville’s Daily News reported on Feb.10 that the district is struggling as a result of a 6.9 percent drop in student enrollment and the resulting decline in state aid. In a subsequent editorial, The Daily News asked rhetorically, "If not privatization, then what, Lakeview?" The editorial juxtaposed opposition to privatization with the financial reality facing the district. Privatization of custodial and food services may have saved the district $180,000 annually.

In addition to the numerous layoffs, three of the nine district custodians have retired and will not be replaced.