Lansing Sounds Alarm Over Possible School Cuts

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Lansing school administrators are sounding the alarm over possible mid-year funding cuts.

"The problem is much more significant than even the state wanted to realize," Lansing Chief Financial Officer Scott Powers told News 10.

After weeks of waiting to see just how bad the state's financial picture is, potential funding cuts of anywhere from $60 a student to $224 are now forcing Lansing schools to look at how it might make up as much as $3.5 million in lost money.

"Do we need to implement a staff freeze?" Power asked. He also mentioned the possibility of midyear staff cuts, which could, in the most extreme case, include teachers.

The district could also dip into rainy day funds, although Powers warns that fund balance is as low as it's been in years. He says detailed solutions haven't been examined because the district doesn't know just how much if anything will be cut.

For that, administrators are waiting for the state of the state.

"We're clearly waiting to see what the governor might say," Powers said. And, of course, they'll be waiting to see how the legislature will respond.

The budget turmoil comes as the district is looking to settle on a contract with its teachers.

"Well, it doesn't make it any easier," Chief Negotiator Barbara Ruga said. "Uncertainty never helps parties make an agreement."

There is a contract option provided by a mediator that teachers are currently considering. We're told that mutli-year contract includes concessions on healthcare.

But the school board might have to wait to take action until members know how more about the potential cuts.

Powers says repeated mid-year cuts have to stop.

"It is discouraging," he said.

The district won't necessarily advocate for tax increases, according to Powers. That's up to the legislature, he says.