More Layoffs Coming?

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After cutting seven teaching jobs this past month and consolidating classes, the Northwest Community School District may have to cut even further next month.

The district has lost 64 students since September equating to nearly a half million dollars in funding. It's a problem the district's superintendent says is statewide.

"The economy needs to draw people to the state," says Superintendent Emily Kress. "In Jackson County we need businesses to come into Jackson County not leave like we say happening right now."

The downsizing of companies like Eaton Corp and TRW Automotive has forced families to leave the area to find work. Jackson public schools have also lost students -- 43 of them from 2005 to 2006. Kress says northwest has tracked where the students have gone.

"We know we've lost some students within the county, but we also know we've lost a significant number of students to other places in Michigan, and other states and actually even out of the country," she said.

The budget woes could force the board to make cuts in programs, curriculum, or perhaps busing. But before any of those hit the chopping block, the first target will be staff.

"This district will have to make our work force equal to our student population and because we lost these students, yes, we are going to have to see more lay-offs," Kress said.

Despite the grim outlook, Kress is staying optimistic.

"We're a phoenix. We're ashes right now, but we will rise from the ashes and become a beautiful bird."