Source: Sherman Publications

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Vote soon on Choice, cuts

by Phil Custodio

May 08, 2013

After a last call for questions, decision time is coming soon on Clarkston schools of choice.

"We have difficult choices to make," said Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock at the May 6 School Board workshop meeting. "We ask that the board make a decision a couple weeks from now."

At the board's next regular meeting, May 20, they will consider administration's proposals for limited open enrollment, as well as other revenue-generating ideas and budget cuts designed to eliminate a deficit of about $3.5 million.

Board Secretary Rosalie Lieblang asked administration to take another look at line items for over-budgeted items.

"There won't be thousands of them," Lieblang said. "If we get every one of them, it might make a difference."

"We'll take a look at that," Rock said.

Clarkston's school-of-choice proposal would open grades K-2 to up to 100 more students from outside the district.

At $7,082 from the state per student, it could raise $708,200 for Clarkston schools.

The program would be reviewed each year, Rock said.

"It's a temporary problem we're having for enrollment we expect it to turn around in the next few years," he said. "It's important we not apply permanent solutions to temporary problems."

Eliminating busing, privatizing custodians, closing a school, and similar ideas would be more permanent, he said.

"These are things we want to be very careful about it would affect a lot of people," he said.

The state legislature is also in the midst of its budget process, so school funding remains in question, he said.

"There is still a lot pending in the state budget, which is obviously going to be a huge factor," he said.

"It could be very, very devastating to the district, especially after making these cuts," McGinnis said.

Recent budget discussions at the state level include dipping into school funding for road construction.

"I strongly encourage everyone to contact their state legislators," McGinnis said. "I understand we want good roads but not at the expense of our students."

Proposed budget reductions for Clarkston include $750,000 from teacher layoffs; $1.5 million, human resources; $200,000, Early Childhood Center's fund equity; $250,000, At Risk; $60,000, facilities and transportation; and $73,000 in across-the-board, non-personnel cuts.

Check for more details on the budget proposal. The school board meets at 7 p.m., Monday, May 20, at the administration building, 6389 Clarkston Road. Call 248-623-5400 for more information.