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$6.3M coming in school cuts

February 23, 2011 - Cutting the budget leads next Monday's Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education meeting.

The board already directed administration to cut $6.3 million from 2012 and 2013 fiscal years to balance the budget.

Governor Rick Snyder proposed cutting $470 per pupil in his 2012 budget proposal on Thursday. Retirement costs will also go up $230 per student, up to $6 million in cuts.

"We have not yet had the chance to dialogue on this issue as a board but our administration is already planning for any possible scenario the state can throw at us," said Board President Steve Hyer, adding the board has previously discussed not to jump every time Michigan throws a new number out. "It is unfortunate and unfair that the governor is proposing to balance the state's budget on the backs of our children."

Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock's vision for the best education for Clarkston students remained unfazed by the news.

He thought back to a young boy he met on Kindergarten Information Night on Wednesday who will attend Clarkston this fall.

"To the young boy and his parents, the name of our governor, the amount of funding provided by the state of schools and the priorities of the state set forth in budget proposals don't matter," Rock said. "The only thing that matters is the quality of his educational experience in Clarkston."

He added Clarkston Community Schools will overcome any obstacles and find a way to get each student ready for whatever lies ahead for them.

"We will move forward with our budget process and the board's stated parameters," Rock said. "We must be flexible as the state will not have a finalized plan until well past the due date for our budget approval."

On Feb. 14, the board announced where cuts will come from.

For 2011-2012 fiscal year, they aim to cut $3.5-$4 million from human resources, staff or programs, elementary specials, secondary clerical, International Baccalaureate spending, transportation, instructional aides and miscellaneous.

Based on projections for 2012-2013 fiscal year, the district is considering cuts in secondary school teaching staff, staff and programs, human resources, shared services, sinking fund, technology/renovation bond, general fund support of community education and drivers education. They are aiming for $2-$2.5 million in cuts, Rock said.

Kathy Noble, first-grade teacher at Bailey Lake Elementary, asked the board to spend some of the district's fund balance of about $7.8 million.

"I have heard stated several time in the last couple of years Michigan is in the perfect storm situation," Noble said. "Since it is called the rainy day fund I think it needs to be considered."

She said Clarkston's programs have their benefits, but teaching students to read, write and grow socially outweighs them.

"I know this is a dollar sense for you," she said. "But it is common sense for teachers like me who are passionate to get students to learn."

She added class sizes need to be reasonable, about 25 students per class, to help teachers teach and students learn.

"An effective teacher is the best resource the students have," Noble said. "Help us be the best effective teachers we can be by keeping the class sizes manageable."

The next board meeting is Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at the Administration Building, 6389 Clarkston Road.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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