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School cuts budget by $2 million

Including $54,000 from sports

By Judy Reed

Nothing was sacred this year as Cedar Springs Public Schools looked at ways to cut expenses next year by $2 million, and at the same time found ways to increase their revenue.
Several parents turned up at the Board of Education meeting Monday to voice displeasure that certain sports did not receive funding in the budget. At risk is JV girls golf, JV boys golf, JV baseball, JV softball, girls freshman soccer, and middle school tennis. According to Assistant Superintendent David Cairy, athletic supervisor Autumn Mattson came up with a list of sports where participation levels are low and interest has dropped. “If we have enough interest in a sport, we’ll find a way to do it,” explained Cairy. “We are all about providing opportunities for kids. But if we don’t get enough to sustain it, that’s a problem.”
Board President Joe Marckini and other board members echoed that sentiment. “We were stunned at some of the numbers falling off, especially girls soccer,” said Marckini. “If you get the numbers, I’ll support it.”
Overall, the school cut funding for athletics by $54,125, which also included reductions in supplies, uniforms, and coaches.
Several parents complained that they feel communication on the subject was poor, and that the coaches in the sports didn’t even know their sports were at risk.
“Sports are very important to us, too,” board trustee Todd Hanson told parents. He noted that they also cut technology, and that with fewer teachers, that means increased class sizes, “which no one wants,” he said. He also noted academics are at risk. “We also may not have AP Biology because of low interest,” he said.
The biggest cuts in next year’s budget came from staff reductions: $1 million in teaching staff that retired (12) and won’t be replaced, and $200,000 in support staff (7) that were laid off. They also cut $250,000 in technology, $100,000 in curriculum, and various other service reductions to meet their $30.7 million budget, including using $182,700 from their fund balance.
On a high note, because the school has been getting their fund balance up to a recommended level of 14 percent, they will not need to borrow money this summer—for the first time in many years—to meet payroll, which equals several million dollars. Although the school’s fiscal year starts July 1, the state’s fiscal year doesn’t start until October, causing a gap in payments.
Increases in revenue will also come from sharing services with other districts. Cairy is now also business manager for Kent City schools. He is contracted through Kent Intermediate School District, who will manage the funding. Cedar Springs also continues to share a transportation supervisor with Sparta, and will be doing some bus runs for them where the districts cross lines. They also share some other business services at the KISD.
One big change for next year will be that New Beginnings students will move into Red Hawk Elementary. Cairy said they will be two schools within one building, and will be separated. “It’s not like they don’t see each other, because they already ride the bus together and park at Red Hawk to be released,” noted Cairy. There is plenty of room, because just a few years ago there were 700-plus students at Red Hawk, and currently only a little over 200. Cairy said they will save about $40,000 by moving New Beginnings there from Hilltop–$30,000 in custodial fees, and $10,000 in natural gas from not having to heat that wing.
“We are trying so hard to do anything we can in the business office to be good stewards, so that kids don’t have to miss opportunities,” he remarked.
High Schoolers might also see a bump up in lunch prices from $2.25 to $2.50 but it has nothing to do with the budget. Rather, it’s mandatory to meet federal guidelines.

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