Source: Sherman Publications

Proposed cuts for Brandon Schools; $1.2 million needed
‘This will keep us in the black instead of the red’

by Susan Bromley

March 06, 2013

Brandon Twp.- Reductions of teachers as well as non-instructional staff would account for more than half of $1.2 million in savings if a proposed list of budget cuts is adopted by the school board.

Janice Meek, executive director of business services for the school district, presented the list of proposed budget reductions for fiscal year 2013-14 during the board’s March 4 budget workshop meeting.

“Our goal (in making the list) was to go into fact finding with a balanced budget for next year,” said Meek.

School administrators and the Brandon Education Association will meet with a state-appointed “fact finder” later this month in an attempt to settle a contract.

Meek and Superintendent Lorrie McMahon have projected a budget deficit for next school year of $1.2 million.

“We need more than $1.2 million in reductions to make things work, but this would keep us in the black instead of the red,” said McMahon.

The district expects to reduce one teacher due to reconfiguration of schools in the fall, and coupled with other savings in the restructuring, this will amount to an estimated $200,000; three more teachers will be cut due to enrollment decline, saving $240,000, but an instrumental teacher will be added to lessen the burden on Russ McMartin, who currently leads both the high school and middle school bands. The reconfiguration and teacher reductions would amount to $355,000.

“Our district has told us they want to keep lower class sizes in the elementary,” said McMahon. “They have told us they want the arts maintained and we are running the band teacher ragged. He needs help.”

The proposed list anticipates the savings of $334,601 with non-teaching staff reductions. McMahon and Meek were reluctant to elaborate on these pending results of fact-finding, with McMahon only saying, “Any person that isn’t a teacher could be reduced under this part of the proposal. It will be very hard to make those non-teaching reductions. Enrollment and teachers go together, but we are pretty slim otherwise. It will be a challenge for us to figure out how to meet all the state requirements and mandates with fewer people, but we are going to work on it.”

The district privatized custodial services last year, contracting with D.M. Burr to save $250,000 annually and increase the number of custodial employees from 18 to 24; however, the proposed budget cuts would reduce 4 D.M. Burr employees for a savings of $100,000.

Other list proposals include not replacing retiring Transportation Director Betty Martin for a savings of $72,588.23; subsidizing Head Start transportation, $70,000; keeping special education students currently sent to Holly in district, $42,000; reducing a speech pathologist due to reconfiguration, $68,333; eliminating “overload” paraprofessionals, $23,760; eliminating middle school football and sideline cheer teams, as well as 9th grade teams, $33,881; doubling the high school student parking lot fee from $25 to $50, $7,000; and increasing pay to participate fees, for a savings to the district of $20,000.

Other various proposals involve partial shifting of funding for staff positions from the general fund to Title I or other funding sources.

A decision will not be made until at least the end of May on whether to implement the reduction proposals.