September 19, 2014

SSCS acting superintendent and board begin making cuts

Search for new superintendent still in beginning stages

James Kuch
SSCS Board President Dr. Leonard LeClair, left, talks with Michael Dewey, acting superintendent at the district’s special meeting on Thursday, June 23.
Posted

STANDISH — Budget cuts have begun at the Standish-Sterling Community Schools District.

The school board voted on proposed cuts given to them by Michael Dewey, acting superintendent, at a special meeting on Thursday, June 23.

Dewey approached the board with two options for cuts to cover the district’s $1,527,000 shortfall, with option one being chosen by the board.

Option one included cuts to the staff including teachers, administrators and custodians. It also included a proposal for pay-to-play for student athletes and families of those athletes to pay for transportation to athletic events.

Dewey also requested that the board use $417,350 from its fund balance, although Dewey said that amount could change depending on how the board votes on other issues, and if any staff members take a buyout.

Option two requested that the board use $1,028,750 from its fund balance.

“I suggest the board not accept option two,” Dewey said.

Dewey asked the board to reduce the teaching staff by an equivalent of 4.5 full time teachers by July 1.

“This option includes 2.5 positions at the high school, one at the middle school, and one at the elementary school,” Dewey said. “That would be a savings of approximately $284,450.”

The board decided to table the discussion until next week.

Dewey also requested that the board eliminate one administrative position, one curriculum director, and reduce the athletic and community education director position to half-time.

The board voted unanimously to eliminate the curriculum director position, an estimated savings of $92,000, and decided that Dewey will meet with Athletic and Community Education Director Ben Welmers to discuss his position further.

“This is not just one effort, this is an effort across the board,” Dewey said about his suggested cuts.

The board voted unanimously not to fill a paraprofessional position that was vacated by retirement this year. The district will save an estimated $21,000 by eliminating the position.

Under Dewey’s proposed cuts, he estimated that eliminating two custodians would save the district an estimated $101,000. The board voted not to cut the custodians by a vote of 4-3.

Dewey also requested that the board implement pay-to-play for school athletics. Dewey’s proposed that families of student athletes pay $50 per sport, with a maximum of $200 paid per family, bringing in an estimated $27,000.

After heated discussion between board members Ron Bartlett and Dennis Kolever, the board voted 5-2 not to implement pay-to-play.

“There are families in this area that are struggling,” Kolever said. “We cannot ask them to pay this much. I am not for this.”

The board also elected to table a proposal asking student athletes to pay a transportation fee of $25 per sport. Dewey estimated that implementing a transportation fee would bring in an estimated $13,950 for the district.

As the meeting concluded, the board gave Dewey permission to distribute 10 pink slips to teachers in the district and one to the curriculum director. The board voted unanimously to give Dewey that authority.

“We will issue layoff notices to the 10 educators, but that does not mean they all will lose their jobs,” Dewey said. “I have requested that we eliminate 4.5 positions in the district, but I am required to notify 10 teachers.”

Dewey said everyone in the district has had to make sacrifices during this time. Before the meeting, teachers and administrators agreed to concessions that will save the district an estimated $65,000.

“I commend everyone in the district for their sacrifice,” said Dewey.

Dewey said he wishes that no cuts had to be made.

“I made my recommendations with the thought of having the least impact on the students,” he said. “Any time you have cuts, you’re going to impact students. I wish I could look into a crystal ball and I could tell you the economy would turn around. I would, but we just don’t know.”

The district’s search for a new superintendent is still in the early stages.

“I have not received any information yet from candidates,” Dewey said.

Dewey also said that no one has come to him asking about the position, but he believes that candidates will begin to emerge soon.

“In situations like this, candidates will hold off until late to apply,” he said. “A lot of people want to wait to see what becomes available.”

Dewey said the position has not been posted internally.

“I believe we will have something available at the first part of next week,” he said.

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