What To Cut Next Year?

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A kindergarten section will end. Athletes will have to pay $50 more a season to play. And the high school will be without a security guard.

They are admittedly tough cuts, but ones the Mason district is making in light of budget that won't be able to grow to cover new costs.

"We've been in reduction mode for three to four years," board President Barb Hensinger said. "We started out at the edges ... Now we're starting to get into the bone, the essential things."

It's a similar story in Okemos, where leaders are looking for the cuts that stay furthest from the core process of education.

"For instance, cleaning classrooms every other day instead of cleaning every day is a tremendous savings opportunity," Okemos board President Bob McDonough said.

The Okemos budget is balanced with similar cuts. Extra savings could come from a plan to offer buyouts to teachers nearing retirement.

"This is a way for us to avoid layoffs," said McDonough of the plan passed Monday that would require six teachers in the district's elementary and middle schools to offer to leave by June 19. A maximum of 18 teachers can receive buyouts.

The school budget is tight in Jackson as well. The district has sent more than two dozen teachers layoff notices.

"[Plus] three social workers, so 28 in total," district spokeswoman A'Lynne Robinson said. "However, it's a proactive move and we typically call the majority, in years past, back."

The state budget crisis puts that into question. But like Okemos and Mason, Jackson is preparing its budget with the idea that the state will not give schools any extra money, despite growing costs especially for things like healthcare.

"I think all the districts are very concerned as to how they solve that problem and where things go in the future," Hensinger said.

"There are a lot of uncertainities right now," Robinson said.

And there will continue to be until the state figures out the next budget.

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