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Published: Wednesday, 3/21/2012

Lake school board approves layoffs, other cuts

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Second-grade teacher Brooke Schulte, her voice quivering slightly, said she wasn’t angry that she just lost her job and she still supported Lake Local Schools.

Parent Jamie Blazevich wanted her 5-year-old son in all-day kindergarten next year so she plans to enroll him somewhere else, now that Lake’s full-time kindergarten is gone.

The two women were among several who spoke out Wednesday night as the school board unanimously approved closing Walbridge Elementary next school year, laying off eight teachers and 17 other employees, including three custodians, two bus drivers, and three study hall monitors.

Thirteen assistant coaches, whose pay ranged from $2,049 to $5,668, also lost their jobs although the district did not eliminate any athletic programs for next year.

Switching from full-day kindergarten to every other day struck a nerve with several parents who spoke at the meeting.

“It really saddens me,” said Ms. Blazevich. “I want that for him. I want that success.”

The board’s decision was made in front of more than 100 people, an audience four times larger than the typical school board meeting.

“It’s heartbreaking to me we are forced to take this action,” school board president Tim Krugh said before the board voted. “May God have mercy on us.”

Lake schools, which historically has struggled passing levies, cut $1.15 million from its budget after government funding dropped and voters rejected tax levies in August and November in 2011.

School officials threatened more cuts could come Jan. 1 if a levy is not approved in August.

During the meeting, the mood was far from hostile as audience members asked detailed questions or praised the board for making tough decisions.

Earlier in the day, Owens Community College student Lori DeShetler, who tutored 12 hours a week at Lake Elementary, was fired after she accused Superintendent Jim Witt of being heartless on a television station’s Facebook page, school officials said.



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