Big cuts are in store in the Grand Ledge School District as part of a restructuring plan proposed by the superintendent and the district. The plan was presented to the school board Tuesday night.
Grand Ledge has to make the cuts in order to make up for a loss in per pupil funding and a drop in student enrollment that's leaving them more than 5 million dollars in the hole for the 2010-2011 school year. Superintendent Steve Matthews says the state had already cut per pupil funding by 165.00 per student, then Governor Jennifer Granholm announced more funding cuts at $127.00 per student. He says that's left them to make up the difference somehow.
Cuts total about 4.1 million dollars in the proposal. Fifty-three positions in the district would be cut under that new proposal. That includes teacher and staffing positions. Some of those positions on the chopping block include the Director of Technology, Communications Officer and the restructuring of the Director of Athletics. The cost savings there would be $220,000 according to the district.
Superintendent Steve Matthews says bus transportation would end for high school students and return transportation from athletic events would stop. He says, "Transportation to school is a big issue. We currently spend 2.2 million dollars on transporting general education K-12 students. Our proposal will be to eliminate high school transportation which will eliminate and save us about $500,000."
Matthews says funding to athletics would be cut by about $227,000. The money would instead stay in the general fund. He says, "What we're hoping is when we go to our community and identify what these are -- this is the program that we can run-- the community will step up and support some of the programs that could potentially be on the chopping block. So, for example, with a golf program, instead of having a varsity and a JV program, you may just have one combined varsity program. If the golf boosters were to say, we'll step up and we'll support a JV coach, then they could have varsity and a JV program."
The superintendent tells us they also want to consolidate schools. HE says, "One of the proposals we're making will be to close two of our elementary buildings to consolidate into a kindergarten center at Neff Elementary and then to have four buildings that are grades 1-6 and then Hayes becomes a 7-8 building and so our K-8 program will be changed fairly drastically if the board of education approves this proposal."
Here's the breakdown of the building restructuring:
Early Childhood/Kindergarten Center at Neff
Four Grade 1-6 buildings
Beagle, Wacousta, Willow Ridge, Delta Center
Grade 7-8 building at Hayes
GLHS remains Grade 9-12 building incorporating Swandon HS students
Close: Holbrook, Greenwood, Sawdon High School
Reconfigure: Neff, Beagle
Matthews says the number of bands will also be affected by consolidation. He says, "We will continue to have elementary music, we'll continue to have middle school music and high school music. Where the impact will be felt is in the number of bands that we have. We currently have a 6th grade band and next year the proposal is we will not have a 6th grade band."
Energy savings on closing Holbrook and Greenwood will equal $41,000 for Holbrook and $35,000 for Greenwood.
The proposal also calls for negotiated employee concessions of $538,000.
Another savings that's listed is the end of the 2007/2008 Early Retirement Incentive or buyouts. It's estimated that will save the district $600,000.
Grand Ledge Public Schools had already taken steps in the past to cushion the blow of the funding problem. The district says, "Now, more drastic changes are required, there is no simple way to adjust to the projected loss of funding. Michigan's public school funding system is failing. As a result, Grand Ledge, along with many other public schools, continues to face both short-term and long-term challenges."