Source: Sherman Publications

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Board struggles with budget

by Don Rush

May 04, 2011

Left, Kathy Eveland spoke before the Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education Monday night. She successfully persuaded the board, including secretary Tiffany Webber-Phillips and Superintendent Marion Ginopolis to try and find ways to save other than reducing the number of elementary office assistants from two to one per building. Photos by D. Rush
With only 24 hours remaining for the seated board of education to vote on anything (five of seven seats were up for election in Tuesday's election, see related story), members of the community, board and district employees and even some students packed Monday night's 2011-2012 budget workshop meeting, slated to start at 6 p.m., by a quarter to, the room was already a-buzz.

On the agenda, administrative recommendations to reduce the Lake Orion Community School District's budget, something Superintendent Marion Ginopolis called, "not an easy task."

Ginopolis told the board after public comments, what they had before them were $3 million worth of recommendations -- even though the board previously directed her to come up with $7 million in reductions, "Reaching $7 million will require reductions in benefits and salaries" she said.

The administrations recommendations for the night dealt with reducing costs by eliminating the police liaison, secretaries, office assistants, high school monitors, lunch aids, media specialists, counselors; there was also talk of upping pay to play for athletics (from $250 to $275 or higher); having non-Lake Orion Education Association coaches become employees of a private staffing company; and across the board salary decreases.

No cuts were made at the meeting, as the board directed the administration for clarification on some of the items discussed -- they wanted a picture of how departments would be structured if the recommendations were accepted. Ginopolis was to have this ready for the board by next week.

Ginopolis told the board the budget draft is built on "what ifs," meaning they are budgeting without knowing how much of a cut in per pupil spending will be passed down from the state of Michigan.