Lansing Parents Give School District Budget Ideas

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A potential 10 million-dollar shortfall has the Lansing School District asking parents to play accountants.

"Excellent teachers, smaller class sizes -- after school programs are good," one parent said before the start of Tuesday's parent budget input meeting.

Some parents had ideas about what lansing school programs they'd like to save. But the meeting quickly turned to things to cut.

Contracting out for buses was an idea. Trimming travel expenses was another. Even selling naming rights for schools came up.

"We need to partner with the corporate community. Our children are their workforce," a parent said.

But teacher salaries other personnel expenses make up a substantial majority of the district's budget. And since no one wants fewer teachers, discussion focused on teacher benefits and development days.

Administrators pledged to work on those issues when the teachers' contract is up.

Parents also honed in on a longstanding problem for the district.

"Our financial situation would be better if we discontinued losing students to other districts," parent Felicia Wasson said.

Lansing has seen overall enrollment go from more than 20,000 students just a few years ago -- to roughly 16,000 today.

Fewer students means less money for lansing under the state's school funding formula.

Another parent spoke out, saying she's thinking of joining others who've pulled their children from the district.

"We're dissatisfied with overcrowding. There are behavior problems."

Parents clashed over whether "behavior problems" are a serious matter of safety for children -- or simply an image problem.

District administrators say they'll look into any and all suggestions to plug that projected $10 million shortfall.

They have some time to look into it. The district's budget is due at the end of June.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.