Source: Sherman Publications

School board takes aim at big cuts, talk with teachers

by David Fleet

July 13, 2011

We want to talk.

That’s the latest message from the Goodrich Schools administration to the Goodrich Education Association —which represents about 100 district teachers.

“This is a difficult financial time,” said John Fazer, district superintendent. “With the collaborative spirit of all the employees working together, we as a district provide the best educational setting for our students while keeping our district financially solvent.”

On July 12, Fazer said the administration requested the GEA return to bargain and reopen their contract after they walked away last month, claiming teachers have given their fair share.

“A 5 percent wage concession and holding the annual auto step for teachers will be a $600,000 savings,” said Fazer.

“Other groups have already taken a 5 percent cut.”

On Monday night the Goodrich School Board gathered for a finance committee meeting in an effort to shave off an additional $600,000 from the school budget. The cuts are necessary, say school officials, to head off a forecasted deficit for next year, which compounds and reoccurs for the 2013-14 year The fund balance will potentially be exhausted in two years, say school officials.

“It’s imperative we stop the downward trend now,” said Fazer. “Do you sit and do nothing and hope for the best? Do you just hope we get additional funding from the state? There are a lot of ‘ifs’ right now. It’s not the worst case scenario—it is the scenario.”

Currently, the district’s fund balance is at $2.66 million, of which $700,000 is needed for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year.

In an effort to stave off future budgetary issues—school officials deliberated a series of cuts to the district at Monday night’s workshop.

Suggestions included: Every other day cleaning of the school will save $50,000 per year; attend school through June 30 and close on 12 Fridays in December and January; elimination of busing will save the district $450,000; complete power blackout after 10 p.m.; reducing heat to 68 degrees will save the district $10,000; the elimination of the block scheduling will save the district two or three teachers and save $175,000; reduce busing then drop students off at strategic locations near their home; eliminate middle school sports and offer sports on a club only basis; textbook purchase freeze; increase the cost of pay-to-play; and privatizing of busing and custodial services will save $325,000.