Lansing Schools Face $10 Million Budget Deficit

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It's a number no school board president wants to hear.

With Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul presenting a potential $9.8 million budget shortfall at a work session, last week, School Board President Guillermo Lopez says the district needs to start now if it's going to balance the budget for the next school year.

"We look at things like from busing to certain programs, theme programs that we have," said Lopez.

Programs like physical education, art and music have been brought to the table as potentially cuttable if the need arises.

"At this point, we're just looking at things that just make sense and are possibilities, but nothing is resolved," said Lopez.

Board Secretary Peter Spadafore says there are a number of reasons behind the deficit.

"Costs go up. Energy costs go up, we've got a lot of buildings, transportation costs go up," said Spadafore. "Retirement rates that we pay for our employee pensions continue to escalate. We also have a declining enrollment population."

Board Member Nino Rodriguez says the deficit has less to do with losing students and more to do with government funding.

"If we are losing 400 students, it would only cost $3 million. We are short $10 million. Someone's not giving out the money."

As of right now, Lopez and Spadafore say no proposals have been made to slash any programs, but funding from the state will play a big role in determining cuts.

"A lot of our challenge stems from the fact that we don't know what we're going to get from the state of Michigan," said Spadafore.

"We have to be ready to act as we need to once we know what our cash flow will be," said Lopez.

The district is also discussing employee contracts, which will help to determine where they will go with their budget. As of now, Lopez says any talk of cuts is just talk and anyone with concerns is welcome to come to board meetings and offer their suggestions.