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Brandon School District expected to cut 46 staff, trim budget



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May 18, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- Lay-offs are coming to the school district.

The school board will vote during a special meeting to reduce 46 staff members, including 15 full-time teachers, 9 percent of the total current teaching staff. The remainder of staff that can expect pink slips following the meeting are paraprofessionals that are not grant-funded, media center personnel, and office clerks at every building. The special meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m., May 23, at the central district office, 1025 S. Ortonville Road.

"We have contractual deadlines to meet with the teachers, so this has to be done by June 1," said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon. "There may be more, it depends on how the funding ends up and how negotiations go through."

The district, like districts everywhere in Michigan, has been waiting to learn what the final cuts will be to the state education budget. The Brandon School Board is currently anticipating they will need to cut $2.8 million from the district's budget this year. McMahon has said she anticipates the majority of those cuts will need to come via contract negotiations. The district is currently in negotiations for salary and benefits with the teachers, whose contract was up Dec. 31. McMahon said a negotiations session is planned for all day Monday prior to the meeting.

Other groups the district is currently negotiating with include transportation and food service.

McMahon expected the affected teachers— nine from the elementary schools and six from the secondary schools— to be notified by the building principals on Friday. The superintendent has already met with the paraprofessionals, media personnel and clerks to tell them to expect lay-offs.

"Since we don't know what the budget looks like, we can't be more specific than to do mass lay-offs," McMahon said. "To be fair, we give them lay-off no tice and then call them back if we can. I regret this very much. Brandon has reached a point where we will have a hard time getting along without a full staff. Simple things such as lunch room supervision and recess supervision becomes much harder."

Lay-offs of the teachers is expected to bring larger class sizes. McMahon said that some classes that currently have 20 students could increase to around 30 students. In elementary school, it is possible that some first and second grade classes could be combined, as well as third and fourth grade classes. A multi-age group in the same class might mean the teacher would have to split instruction, and how that would work would be up to the teacher to decide.

"It's not all that unusual," McMahon said. "It won't necessarily impact the kids in a negative way, it's just teaching them in a different fashion."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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