Central Montcalm Public School adjusting to budget cuts

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 6:19 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012

Central Montcalm Band Director Matthew Reed teaches a middle school band class Thursday morning. The Central Montcalm Public School Board of Education recently voted to eliminate Reed's position as part of nearly $1.5 million in budget cuts. Daily News/Cory Smith

STANTON — Last month, the Central Montcalm Public School Board of Education voted 4-3 to approve nearly $1.5 million in budget cuts.

Superintendent Jake Helms estimates another $4,000 or $5,000 still needs to be cut. The district has lost 10 to 24 students per year in the last four years and is expected to see a similar or greater decline in enrollment for 2012-2013 year, according to Helms.

“Obviously we’re cutting to try to build back a portion of the fund balance and stay in compliance with state law,” he said. “Obviously we can’t run a deficit budget.”

Helms, who is retiring June 30, has been serving as the district’s athletic director since Dave McLoughlin’s position as athletic director and assistant high school principal was eliminated last year. McLoughlin is now the principal at Central Montcalm Elementary School in Sheridan. The assistant high school principal position will not be replaced.

Helms said after he retires, the athletic director role will be filled by a yet-to-be-named administrator.

Band Director Matthew Reed was among five teachers who were laid off last month. The teachers will continue working until the end of this current school year.

Helms said the school district has two other music instructors on staff and one of them will replace Reed as band director this coming school year. While the band program will continue, the middle school choir program has been eliminated.

“We are not eliminating the music program,” Helms emphasized.

A middle school teacher, two sixth grade teachers and a kindergarten teacher were also laid off. Helms said the school will shuffle existing staff into the middle school and sixth grade teacher roles, based on seniority and qualifications.

A kindergarten teacher may be moved to the first grade, due to a lowered number of incoming kindergarteners this coming school year. A total of 165 kindergarteners enrolled at the school last year. Only 88 have enrolled for this coming school year. The school has a total of seven kindergarten teachers.

Two full-time custodians are retiring and the school may not fill those positions.

Media center aide hours are also being reduced to 5.5 hours per day, which will reduce the aides’ benefits and salary as well. While three of the school district’s media centers are in rooms which can be locked when aides are not working, the middle school media center is in an open location.

“Our middle school media center may be a bit of a problem because it’s a very aesthetically pleasing open space in the middle of our new middle school and it’s kind of tough to monitor who goes in and out of there,” Helms said.

As for the media centers that can be locked, “They just won’t open until a little later in the morning,” Helms said.

Kristi Teall is replacing Helms as superintendent starting July 1. She will continue in a dual role as curriculum director and state and federal program director, meaning she will continue to oversee about $1.1 million in supplementary funds provided by the state and/or federal government.

A meet and greet with Teall is being planned for late June for community members.

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