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School to cut $1.5 million

Board approves layoff notices

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Public Schools announced their plan Monday evening to cut $1.5 million from next year’s school budget. Those cuts include some layoffs of both certified and support staff, and not replacing those that are retiring. According to Superintendent Ron McDermed, they’ve tried to keep the cuts away from kids as much as possible. But kids will still see some changes next year.

“We’ve done so much cutting that it’s hard not to affect something,” he said. “This is our best guess on how to do this, and it’s not easy.”

Under the plan announced Monday evening, two support staff will be layed off, and five recess program assistants will have their schedules reduced, or they will be reassigned. Any retiring will not be replaced. Those cuts save $174,681.

Six certified staff would also be given layoff notices. Some may be called back, however, for part time positions. “We like to recall our layoffs whenever we can,” noted Cairy. Five retiring certified staff members will not be replaced. All those cuts total $728,774.

McDermed did not take the layoffs lightly. “This whole process has been extremely difficult,” he said. “I know these people, I care about these people, and it’s been very hard.”

Under the plan, elementary students will still get 50 minutes of either PE or music each week, but it will likely be more PE due to music cuts. “We kind of adjust that year to year,” noted Cairy.

Due to the layoff of a computer teacher, elementary students will not have computers as a pullout class, but will experience it as part of their regular school day.

The library will be one place they will notice the cuts. “We are really reducing staff in the media centers,” said Cairy. He noted that they don’t have a definite plan yet on how kids will have access to the libraries, but will have it in place before school starts.

Last month they announced the restructuring at the district level, with changes including eliminating the human resources position and eliminating an administrative assistant in the business office. They will also be sharing some services with the Kent Intermediate School District, which will allow a qualified employee at KISD to enter payroll for the Cedar Springs school system. “We’ve been trying to collaborate and share services to reduce employee costs so that we can put more money toward teaching and into the classroom,” explained Assistant Superintendent Dave Cairy.

Also announced last month was the shuffling of some of the principals. Middle school principle Ken See will be moving to the high school, to work with main principal Ron Behrenwald and assistant principal April Stevens. Cedar Trails Elementary co-principal Sue Spahr will be main principal at the middle school (7th and 8th grade), and Anne Kostus will be the main principal at Red Hawk (6th grade) but will also share duties at the middle school with Spahr.  Those and other administrative cuts total $606, 445.

All together, the cuts equal $1,555,580.

While school districts don’t know for sure what the state will decide to give them, they are required to set a budget by June 30, while the state doesn’t fully set their budget until October 1. So things could change. Any change in expected enrollment could also cause the numbers to go up or down. Cairy said they have their eye on enrollment for next year, and expect an increase in the number of kindergartners from about 280 now to 309 when school starts. “We’re going to keep watching it and keep being smart about our costs,” he said.

The school budget hearing for the public will be June 14, with the board voting on it on June 21.

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