Schools Trim, Worry About Economy

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

It's not just reading and 'rithmetic educators worry about these days; recession, foreclosures and the auto industry are becoming increasingly heavier hands in the education equation.

"We're seeing declining enrollment, increasing costs due to utilities," says Nancy Hipskind, superintendent of Charlotte Public Schools.

Hipskind says with Michigan's growing troubles, her district's troubles are following suit. Next year, they'll redesignate the use of one building. Weymouth Elementary will no longer have kindergarten through 4th grade; those students will go to other schools. Because of those reductions, the district will reduce bus routes, saving them a much-needed $500,000.

"We're doing everything we can to try to keep our programs in tact," Hipskind says. "Things are tough all over. We're just trying to be as effecient and effective as we can be."

"Dollars are shrinking everywhere," says William Mayes, executive director of Michigan Association of School Administrators. "That affects how much money is put into classrooms, that affects how much money schools have to operate."

At a symposium Tuesday in Lansing, administrators from around the state met to address how the auto industry and economy are wreaking havoc on education funding. And, hopefully, to get some pointers from each other.

"Ninety percent of budgets are in peril because of low finances from the state," Mayes says.

St. Johns superintendent Bob Kudwa says they're not immune either-- but facing the music now could help later.

"Knowing about these demands and how it will affect future and what we need to do will help us build a budget for next year and years down the road," Kudwa says.

And years it will be, in this recession, before schools get a break.

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