Central Montcalm school board OKs $1.5 million in cuts

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 10:57 am on Wednesday, April 25, 2012

STANTON — Five teachers, the assistant principal/athletic director, the curriculum director and others are losing their jobs as a result of nearly $1.5 million in budget cuts at Central Montcalm Public School.

School Board President Doug Bowen, Vice President Bill Simpson, Secretary Roxanne Switzer and board member Mike Barnwell voted in favor of $1,491,148 in budget cuts. Board members Bill Collins, Todd Giles and Mark Grossbauer voted against the cuts.

The cuts include five teachers — the band director, a middle school teacher, two sixth grade teachers and a kindergarten teacher — the assistant principal/athletic director, a Title I paraprofessional, a curriculum director (new superintendent Kristi Teall will continue as curriculum director in a dual role), media center aides and custodial hours.

‘We cut and we cut and we cut’

The school board received a list of more than a dozen areas where cuts could be made to reach a balanced budget for the 2012-2013 school year.

“We cut and we cut and we cut, but we can’t keep up,” said Superintendent Jake Helms. “This is the fourth year in a row that the state has cut the per pupil allowance.”

The district has also lost 10 to 24 students per year in that time and is expected to see a similar or greater decline in enrollment for 2012-2013 year, according to Helms.

Helms said other budget cut alternatives included privatization of transportation or custodial services.

“Let me reiterate, I do not want to privatize,” Helms said. “At this point we have to look at all options.”

Helms emphasized that the district is ahead in state mandates in many areas, including technology and the all day/every day kindergarten.

‘A lot of unanswered questions’

“I feel like I am looking at a lot of unanswered questions,” Grossbauer said. “I have a lot of concerns on some of the items. I know the parapros do a lot of work that we just don’t know about and there are situations now that arise that are hard to handle when we have an athletic director. What happens later when we don’t have an AD? Laying off five teachers is going to create some gaps. I am uncomfortable approving something like this without having a lot more detail.”

Helms explained that the five teachers who will receive pink slips will be teachers with the lowest seniority.

“We are running out of time,” Helms said. “We need to notify these five. First we do layoffs, we rebuild with who we have and then may have to do more layoffs. We do a real disservice to our staff if we wait.”
More discussion ensued.

“Do we have other options than to cut teachers?” Collins asked.

“It is hard to cut $1.5 million out and not know if this is it or if we will have to do more later, depending on how things turn out,” Switzer said. “We have to pass a balanced budget by June 1 and then we go back later and amend it to make it work.”

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