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Privatization, cuts spark rally

Board to discuss more than $900,000 deficit

April 17, 2013 - Goodrich-At 6 p.m., April 22, the school board will grapple with about $900,000 in cuts to the 2013-14 budget.

The proposed cuts come after district officials will dip into their fund equity for about $440,000 to balance the current budget, said District Superintendent Scott Bogner.

"Our goal is to keep our fund balance at 10 percent," said Bogner. "Since 2007 we've went through about $2 million of the fund balance. We've had a healthy fund balance—we can spend down to 3 percent. But it's not going to come back. When it's gone, it's gone."

The fund equity is the excess of the district assets above its liabilities (what the district owns minus what it owes). While cash is an asset, it's only one of many of an institution's assets – others include: accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, supplies, equipment and buildings.

"It's not going to get any better, funding will be flat for the next year for two reasons—first, state money is not going to change. Governor Snyder will tell you different, but it's just not going to change. Secondly, there's been a decline in student enrollment. Consider our local economy—two automobile parts plants are closing in the Grand Blanc area. When you have that going on, there's adjustments on the way."

A list of cost saving measures for the 2013-2014 school year was prepared by the school district, which included cuts to certified staff totalling $416,026, staffing, support/administration $510,917, pro-grams $2,600. In addition, other suggested cuts are reductions in the number of bus stops, increases to pay-to-participate fees and reductions in legal fees.

"It's not about us adults," said Bogner. "It's about the kids. The adults have to sacrifice to get what the kids need. Are we going to cut programs to keep people employed? We have to rally around our school. I get it—I understand the impact on families, I don't take that lightly. But we have to be fiscally sound. The anger should be pointed in another direction— we are just the messengers. The money and decisions come down from Lansing and Washington."

Due to increasing class sizes in some grades, in April 2012 the board voted to close the Schools of Choice to students for grades 7-12 and accept SOC students for grades kindergarten-sixth.

Bogner said that it is likely the board will reopen the SOC at Monday's meeting.

"We are limited in what we can do as a district," he added. "We have to be stable to do the things necessary to academically prepare students."

Maureen McCallister, negotiator from the Michigan Education Association, sees the budget issue differently.

"We are back with a new superintendent this year, and a new plan to outsource the drivers and the parapros that work with children, in addition to other programs," she said.

"The purpose of this is to supposedly stop a deficit of $900,000 to the district," she said. "Let's be very clear, this is not a deficit. The district has a surplus (rainy day fund) of taxpayers' money of more than 9 percent of the total budget. The school board has decided it wants a magical number of 10 percent in this slush fund. Please keep in mind this is taxpayer money collected to be used for educating kids every year. This money should not be placed in a rainy day fund when it is pouring in Michigan with the way school funding is done."

"This community came out in droves before not to lose the public in public education and to keep their community their community," she added. "These superintendents come in and try to decimate the community by taking the heart out of Goodrich schools and then leave."

Betty Butterworth, president of Goodrich Custodians, Maintenance, Para-Pros and Transportation (CMPT), said, "This is the fourth superintendent in seven years. On Monday night he's going to make recommendations to privatize 24 non-instructional parapros and 15 district bus drivers."

"My group, the CMPTs, have given and given in 2009 we took a 5.5 percent pay cut, saving the district about $128,000 per year. Since that time we made other cuts, totalling $100,00 per year. Then, in 2012, we offered and the school board approved $86,000 in cuts. However, due to the fact the superintendent was on his way out, the cuts were never implemented."

"The problem is, the district is not operating in deficit; rather, these cuts are to replace the savings, so the district can have the 10 to 15 percent fund equity. Goodrich is one of the richest districts in the county."

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