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Shared sacrifice in these times means everyone



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April 07, 2010 - Sharing.

It's one of the first lessons we learn

as children, and it's the strategy we need

now as we struggle to solve a budget crisis

in the Brandon School District.

School boardmembers and administrators

have studied the budget

for months, searching for remedies

to a projected $2.5 million

budget deficit. More recently,

they have aimed for

$3.5 million in cuts as the state

continues to slash per-pupil

funding. Cuts seem to be the only way to

balance the budget as the main source of

revenue dwindles and the district loses

even more money as the student count

drops.

The most recent list of proposed cuts

includes efforts that we applaud— early

retirement incentives for teachers and

support staff, self-funding of community

education and childcare, reduction in the

maintenance budget, elimination of weekend

busing for sports and other extracurricular

activities, and elimination of

middle school sports including soccer,

football and cheer for which there are

other existing opportunities for students

in the community.

We also understand the need for and

support the difficult recommendations to

cut the technology budget and curriculum

purchases. We're relieved and grateful

that the finance committee has withdrawn

a recommendation to eliminate

busing for seventh through 12th grade

students and will keep the swimming pool

open now.

But the proposed list of cuts still has

dramatic effects to academics that we

oppose— layoffs of six teachers, elimination

of all-day Kindergarten paraprofessionals

and some special education

paraprofessionals, reduction of hours for

a literacy coach, and elimination of the

band program at the intermediate school.

Other cuts such as

privatization of busing and custodial

services may not affect

students in the classroom, but

would have devastating effects

nonetheless. The Brandon

School District is the largest

employer in our community. The last thing

our failing economy needs is more lost

jobs and more families struggling to keep

their homes, and food on the table.

During a recent discussion on the budget,

School Board Trustee and Finance

Committee Member Debbie Schummer

said, "The state of Michigan is

hemmorhaging money and the fact of the

matter is, if you're able to go to a doctor

and you have a job, you're lucky."

We couldn't agree more.

Of course we still need a balanced

budget and a solvent school district.

What we propose, in the spirit of giving

our children a quality education and keeping

people gainfully employed, is shared

sacrifice— also mentioned more than

once at a recent finance committee meeting.

Shared sacrifice in these times means

everyone gives something— in this case,

we hope it means that bus drivers and

custodians will agree to 10 to 20 percent

paycuts to save their jobs; teachers will

agree to opening their contract before

talks are scheduled to begin in September and offer

to take at least a 5 percent salary

cut, as well as pay more of their health

benefits, a major for the district; building

principals will agree to a similar plan with

their contract negotiations this spring;

and that central office personnel not in a

union including the superintendent, finance

director, curriculum director and

other staffmembers lead by example and

offer salary concessions themselves.

No one wants to see their salary reduced.

We know that everyone in the

district works hard for our children and

we appreciate the jobs you are doing, but

now more than ever, we need to stop the

bleeding. The loss of more jobs is a hit

this community can't afford. We need to

work together and accept our next lesson—

how to live on less so that we can

keep what we have— our jobs, our

homes and quality education for our children.

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