Educators review budget options

REED CITY, Mich. - Not yet certain whether they will face a $127 per-pupil cut in December, school administrators are reviewing their choices for dealing with it, according to the Cadillac News.

Schools are sure of a $165 per-student cut built into the state education budget, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm added a controversial $127 per-student pro-ration. That has led to a standoff between Granholm and some legislators over whether the second cut is necessary.

Superintendent Steven Westhoff of Reed City Area Public Schools told the News that he expects legislators will use federal stimulus dollars or generate revenue through taxes to avoid or diminish the pro-ration. Using stimulus dollars could lower the cut to $10 per student, the News reported, which Reed City could absorb through its fund balance.

Cadillac Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Liabenow told the News that both cuts combined would result in a budget that overspends revenues by $1.1 million. If the pro-ration is withdrawn, then the earlier cut could be addressed through fund equity and use of categorical funding, Liabenow told the News. At this point the district does not expect to lay off staff midyear.

In Lake City Area Schools, Superintendent Harry Ashton said his district is planning on the pro-ration until it hears otherwise, the News reported. Ashton said Lake City is not planning midyear layoffs, but will "chase the title dollars as much as we can, and take advantage of attrition and protect the fund balance, because next year is going to be more difficult."

Westhoff told the News that the $400 to $600 per-student reduction anticipated in 2010-2011 would likely mean a 20 percent staff reduction across the board in Reed City. However, he also said that cuts of that magnitude could be an opportunity "to create real change" in the education system, the News reported.

Cadillac News, "The state of education," Nov. 18, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "State Ignores $600 Million for Schools," Nov. 13, 2009