Grand Ledge Schools Rolls Out Plan for Big Cuts Due to Restructuring

By: Jennifer Dowling Email
By: Jennifer Dowling Email

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."

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  • by Parent Location: GL on Nov 5, 2009 at 05:36 PM
    Putting the middle school students into one building should not be a problem. The majority of Grand Ledge kids are really great, they are raised very well, there are great parents in this town. I believe that these cuts are going to get more parents involved in their kids' education. Either the parents will get involved by complaining or they will step up to the plate to learn what they can do to help. As far as blame, there is too much greed from the past, present, that crashed together at one time. Now we must hope that people try to find out what they can to do help to make our situation a great experience.
  • by Resident Location: Grand Ledge on Nov 5, 2009 at 08:02 AM
    So let's blame the state. Lowered enrollment in many school systems, because people can't get jobs and are moving out of state. We have a state that won't be able to educate our kids, so what's the attraction to come here? Solution: Get rid of the excess overhead at the state level. To many Chiefs and not enough Indians in state government. Keep paying the high level management with the state so those who are not in management are overworked and understaffed. Bussing and custodial services will ultimately be privatized as it has been in the works for years. The concessions already given by these two groups was not going to be enough in the long run, only a life support system for a temporary fix.
  • by Beagle Middle School Mom Location: Grand Ledge on Nov 4, 2009 at 02:42 PM
    What happened to the lottery money? I thought that was going to help fund our schools. There has got to be a better way than putting all the middle school students in one building. It will turn into a juvenile delinquincy center.
  • by An Educator Location: Michigan on Nov 4, 2009 at 02:28 PM
    In a time when the government tells educators to leave no child behind, it is not the schools that are failing the students, it's Jenny and the big wigs up at the state level that are leaving students in the dust. Educators are expected to meet benchmarks every year to ensure that children and young adults are fit for the real world. But, with the cuts being made in an already hemorrhaging wound like education, government is making an already tough job for teachers, even harder. Taking almost $300 per student away from schools like GL make it almost impossible for Superintendents to run a successful district. Lack of supplies, worn out and dated materials, as well as, understaffed and overcrowded classrooms make it tough for teachers to teach, and for students to learn. As a recent grad of CMU, I've found it difficult to find a job in teaching. With these cuts, I feel my search is now hopeless. I'll eventually leave the state with everyone else. Last one out, hit the lights.
  • by Ricardo Location: Lansing on Nov 4, 2009 at 10:51 AM
    Well, I keep waiting for anyone in office to say something like "hey, what about drasticlly reducing wages and benefits for all government employes?" Nahh it will never happen. All they know how to do is blow smoke and try and dream up yet another way to obtain even more tax money instead of living with what revenue is available. Thank you
  • by Comet Dad Location: Grand Ledge on Nov 4, 2009 at 10:05 AM
    Here's the best part. By closing the Sawdon Alternative Ed program all the kids who don't want to be in school to begin with, will now be integrated into the general ed program at the high school. So, on top of larger class sizes with only 1 teacher, we now have kids who couldn't make it at the high school to begin with, back. Who pays???? The kids who really want to earn an education, that's who.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 3, 2009 at 08:55 PM
    Why does it sound like a deal that the white house will someday run all schools.Just like the H1N1 flu popped up at the time the white house is trying to get National Health INS?They are in real estate,auto companies that were the biggest jobs at one time.They are in the bank business and so on?What is all this leading up to?Why were our jobs really allowed to go over seas?Being a news bug,I can say to many reports on many things and so many NOT saying the same things?Keeping people confused,keeps them from the truth?Look at MI.The government made some pretty big messes,now they are blaming each other and job loss ect?Can't raise taxes on certain items???Just make cuts???They haven't even tried to help MI,just continue to damage it and the people in it?WHY???All need taken out of office!!!What are all the cover ups really about???Why don't they have to take pay cuts when a state is so bad off as they say mich is???Why couldn't they get jobs into MI???Does anything make sense???
  • by GL HS Mom Location: Grand Ledge on Nov 3, 2009 at 07:24 PM
    Steve I commend you. There were tough decisions to make and you did a good job. Thank you.
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