Schools grapple with spending

YPSILANTI, Mich. – As the June deadline to adopt a balanced budget nears, school district after Michigan school district is telling a story of declining enrollment, flat per-pupil funding and a consequent shakeup in staffing and programs, according to media reports.

The Ypsilanti Citizen reported that the Lincoln School District needs to cut $2 million to keep spending in line with anticipated revenue. Administrators there are recommending staff cuts and outsourcing custodial services, the Citizen reported. After-school programs may  be discontinued unless volunteers step up to run them.

The Mount Pleasant school district is debating the costs and benefits of closing or remodeling schools and regrouping students, according to the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun. Despite an anticipated savings of $900,000 next year through a combination of retirements and severance packages, the district still anticipates budget pressure after federal stimulus money is spent, the Sun reported.

In Calhoun County’s Athens Area Schools, the current spending plan outstrips projected revenue by about $400,000, according to a report in the Battle Creek Enquirer. Superintendent Randy Davis has recommended two teacher layoffs, a combined superintendent-principal position, and spending down the district fund equity as part of the reduction plan, according to the report.

He also suggested entering into talks with employee unions immediately to negotiate a reduction in salary or compensation, the Enquirer reported. On the revenue side, Davis said that hosting a special education program and federal stimulus money would bring in some new money.

“The economists and the legislatures have said Michigan will look better in 2014,” Superintendent Lynn Cleary told the Lincoln school board, the Citizen reported.  “They don’t have the answer. They don’t know what they’re going to do.”

The Battle Creek Enquirer, “Athens ponders cuts to fill shortfall,” May 19, 2009

Ypsilanti Citizen, “Lincoln eyes $2 million in cuts,” May 19, 2009

Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, “Mt. Pleasant schools’ fiscal crisis deepens,” May 19, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts,” Dec. 3, 2002