Monday, May 21, 2018
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Bedford schools eye $1.35M in budget cuts

LAMBERTVILLE - Interim Bedford schools Superintendent Jon White last night laid out a plan to cut more than $1.35 million from the district's budget for the upcoming year with personnel layoffs, a freeze in textbook spending, and the elimination of band for fifth-graders.

If they ultimately are approved at a special meeting April 21, the proposed cuts would take effect July 1 and would result in an as-yet-unknown number of job losses and cutbacks.

However, Mr. White said the administration continues to solicit suggestions as to how best deal with the district's $2.4 million deficit in its upcoming budget.

"We've cut nearly $5 million in the budget over the last three years. These cuts have been made with the intention of not affecting children's programs. But that time now is running short," Mr. White said. "There's no fat, but we have to cut."

Among the cuts called for in Mr. White's plan are:

●Saving of $320,000 by freezing textbook purchases.

●Eliminating fifth-grade band at a savings of $95,000.

●Eliminating an assistant principal position in the high school, saving $112,500.

●Replacing an assistant principal in the junior high with an administrative substitute, saving $84,500.

●Cutting a number of non-classroom positions, such as nurses, lead teachers, counselors, and reading specialists.

Before laying out the plan, Mr. White showed a video outlining the history of Michigan's public education spending since voters passed Proposal A in 1994. Mr. White said the more than 70 changes made to Proposal A since it was enacted have left the state's school fund short by about $550 million.

"We didn't create this mess, but together we can fix it by telling the people in Lansing what we're dealing with here at Bedford," Mr. White said. "We're being threatened because we're not being funded properly by the state."

Thea Kirkwood, lead teacher at Bedford's largest elementary school, Monroe Road, is one of the people whose job is in jeopardy.

She said she hoped the board would consider financial alternatives, such as an employee buyout to encourage more retirements and avoid layoffs.

"I do believe there is a crisis. I'm on the list there. I'm a resourceful person, and I'll do whatever I have to do," Mrs. Kirkwood said. "I don't know the [details] of a buyout. But even if it's a short-term solution, I would hope someone has put the numbers together."

In other action last night, the board agreed to replace the roof and the drains this summer at Douglas Road and make a smaller roof repair at the junior high. The two capital projects together will cost more than $260,000.

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