03 May Harrison Schools Facing Tough Decisions (MI)May 3, 2010
By: Susan FieldSource: The Morning Sun
Officials at Harrison Community Schools are making some tough decisions in the “brutal” cuts to balance the district’s budget.
Harrison, like districts all over Michigan, have slashed costs but more are on the horizon, Superintendent Tom House said.
Member of the Harrison Board of Education are poised to make a series of “absolutely brutal cuts after doing the same thing last year,” House said.
“Like most, if not all, school districts in Michigan, Harrison is facing major challenges to its mission to provide a quality education experience for the young people of the community,” House said. “The current and projected cuts to the state foundational allowance for schools, coupled with the increased costs and declining student numbers the district and the state have experienced have resulted in program and staff cuts for many years in a row.”
A special meeting of the board was held March 22, specifically to address budget issues, House said.
Information wa s provided on how schools are funded, and where the money comes from and where it is spent, he said.
With the board having to adopt the 2011 fiscal year budget July 1, more cuts are imminent, House said.
Last year, the district reduced a deficit of about $900,000 by cutting staff and programs, House said.
If the state, which has already reduced funding for regional educational service districts and eliminated the Promise Award, reduces per-pupil funding, Harrison could experience a $15 million shortfall, he said.
“That’s well over $2 million in two years,” House said. “That’s a devastating kind of cut.”
Options for the board include further reductions in staff, programs and supplies, House said.
Although state lawmakers have proposed some bills to address the school funding issue, none are near being reconciled and passed by both the House and Senate, House said.
Calling the situation dire, House said inactivity in Lansing isn’t helping, and that the district has gone from more than 2,300 students to about 1,000.
In a presentation to the board of education, House said that a trend of losing about 50 students a year will likely continue and that a per-student reduction of the foundation allowance of $433 will occur unless there is some action by state lawmakers
A combination of reductions, cuts, concessions, deficit spending will be necessary to balance the 2010-2011 budget, House said.