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Published: Tuesday, 5/19/2009

Monroe Schools librarian, counselor jobs to be eliminated


MONROE - Monroe Public School students will be without three guidance counselors and a librarian next year.

The elimination of one counselor for the elementary schools and one each in the middle school and high school and a middle school librarian are among changes approved by the board of education as it works to trim about $4 million from the budget over the next year.

The $600,000 in reductions recommended by the administration for the 2009-2010 school year and approved last week by the board of education include:

•Reduction of a full-time administrator at the high school to half-time.

•Ending the New Teacher Academy Program and new teacher mentors.

•Eliminating one clerical position at the high school.

•elimination of secondary department chairmen and reduction of workshop and conference attendance and in-disrict professional development for teachers and administrators.

The recent cuts follow action taken April 28 by the board to consolidate elementary schools and redistrict students. Under the plan, four elementary schools will be closed at the end of the school year, saving the district about $1.1 million.

School officials learned last week that the Michigan Education Special Services Association, the health-insurance carrier for employees, will lower rates in the next school year for the district. The unexpected 2.3 percent drop will save the district about $1.1 million.

Ken Laub, assistant superintendent for business, said the elementary consolidation, staff reductions made last week, and the insurance rate drop gets the school system to about the half-way to the $4 million target.

"We are probably a little more past that," he said.

Without cutbacks, district officials projects a $1.9 million deficit for this fiscal year that ends in June and a $4 million deficit for the 2009-2010 school year.

"I really think the board is doing a great job. They have made some big decisions," Mr. Laub said. "There is more work to do. But we feel they are making a step in the right direction."

School officials cautioned that the savings on the insurance rates,which were expected to jump 14 percent, is for one year only, and the preimiums could increase after next year.

The board of education last week didn't take action on administration recommendations involving other personnel changes.

The elimination of the district marketing manager to save $57,972 was tabled and the recommendation to lay off two full-time school nurses failed.

Nikki Klonaris, president of the Monroe City Education Association, which represents about 375 teachers, said she was disappointed that the administration was not asking employees for input about ways to cut expenses.

"I know that the board, as the leaders of the district, has some very tough decisions to make. They are getting their advice from the central office. But we are in the trenches every days. We can offer some valuable input," she said.

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