You could call what's happening to school districts all over
Michigan a tough lesson in business.
"There is no new money. We have to figure out how we can continue to serve students in each of our individual districts," says Stanley Kogut, superintendent of the Ingham Intermediate School District, or ISD.
And Kogut says there's just one way to make the best of the money schools now have.
"The future is consolidation of services," he says.
That means districts will look-- and are looking-- to have one district run programs for others, cutting costs and cutting staff. That way, Kogut says, funds can stay focused on improving education.
"We need to push money into classrooms," Kogut says.
One of the big areas we'll start to see consolidation when it comes to districts in Ingham County is school buses. Already Okemos is handling bus repair for Haslett, and that's likely just the start of it."
"Right now Okemos shares a number of services. We do food services for Williamston," says Okemos Superintendent Cheryl Kreger. "We have business software we share."
Kreger says their school board is supportive of the district sharing its services. Right now, Williamston pays Okemos $25,000 a year to manage its cafeterias.
"When districts combine services, there are savings for both sides," Kreger says.
"If we did county-wide bussing, that'd save millions in the county," Kogut says.
Kogut says he understands many janitors, bus drivers and cafeteria workers are parents of students, and it's hard cutting jobs from local families. But in these times, school money needs to be spent on kids, he says, not the benefits we've grown accustomed to.