A $900,000 Raid of the K-12 School Aid Fund Means ........

posted May 3, 2011, 12:52 PM by mpaskewicz@nvps.net   [ updated May 3, 2011, 12:59 PM ]
May 3, 2011

Good Afternoon,

Today we started the move toward announcing the necessary reductions to solve the budget issue caused by the Governor's budget proposal to cut $470 per student from K-12.  As you know the proposed reduction means and additional $1.6 million less in revenue for Northview next year.  Governor Snyder has asked the legislature to approve the K12 budget (and the rest of his budget proposals) no later than May 31, 2011. Overall our budget reduction is at $3.2 million.  We cannot wait any longer to begin our preparations for next year.

During the past month we have met with staff and community members to discuss the implications of the 37 proposed reductions.  Over 989 implications of those reductions have been identified. The 37 possible areas are posted in our schools and may be found on our web page (www.nvps.net).  A complete listing of reductions will be shared over the next few weeks.  We will honor the negotiated agreements with our teaching and support staff.  As part of our agreement with our teachers, we honored our contract and notified 47 teachers that they may not be employed in Northview next year due to the budget reductions.

There is no "one" reduction that solves the financial issues caused by the Governor's proposed budget reduction.  The actual budget reductions will be across the board and impact all staff groups as well as program budgets and other support services.

Last week, Mark Thomas, Principal of Northview High School, met with staff to discuss the financial reasons that prevent us from keeping the A/B Block schedule next year.  We are the only high school left in Kent County that is using the A/B Block schedule.  We were able to retain the block schedule this year thanks to high school staff teaching an additional class and giving up some of their planning time.

This morning Mark met with the elected officers of our 9th, 10th, and 11th grade classes to discuss the move from an A/B Block schedule to a more traditional straight six high school schedule.  A copy of his letter to parents/guardians was sent to the high school list serve this afternoon.  A hard copy of the letter will be sent home with students tomorrow, May 4 and posted on the high school web page on Thursday. Tonight he will meet with parent leaders to discuss the move away from the A/B Block schedule.  Two other parent meetings are scheduled - Thursday, May 5 at 7:15 p.m. in the PAC and next Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.  Parents may also submit questions electronically and questions and answers will be available in a FAQ format to assist others.

We will also be forced to move away from teaming at Crossroads and Highlands.  Discussions with the respective staffs has already started. Even with the changes in the block schedule and teaming we do not reach the $1.6 million of cuts proposed by Governor Snyder to K-12 education. 

Some elected official, including our Governor, have made the statement "just have your staff pay 20% of their health care costs, take a freeze in pay, and privatize transportation and you will not have a budget problem." If we met the 20% health care metric we would save approximately $700,000.  A freeze in pay and step would save $300,000.  Privatizing transportation would save us the  retirement costs for 16 bus drivers or about $120,000.  The total for the steps recommended by elected officials is $1.12 million or just over $2.2 million short of the cuts we are being forced to make due to the raid of the K-12 School Aid Fund.  It is not accurate to state that these steps solve the funding issue in Northview.

Last year our staff took a freeze in pay, paid 6% of their health care costs, and at the high school, gave up planning time to teach an additional class to preserve the block schedule for one more year.  We are currently in negotiations with our associations that are very collaborative.  Simply put, we have taken the steps to be responsible and conservative in our use of resources in Northview.  We have done this over the past 10 years.

Some of you may now be asking "what can I do?"  It is still not too late to contact your elected officials and encourage them to stop the raid of the K-12 school aid fund and do not give $900 million of the K-12 School Aid Fund to universities and community colleges.  Contact information may be found on our web page (www.nvps.net).  If you have already contacted your elected officials make it a point to call, email, or write them each week for the month of May.

As I stated in the first sentence of this email message, this is a first step in a process.  I am meeting with the Teacher and Support Staff Association leadership on a regular basis.  I am confident that we will work through this very difficult and emotional process in a professional manner.  I am even more confident that we will align all available resources and provide our students and community a sound educational experience next year.

As always, feel free to share this information with others.  You may also contact me directly if you have questions or comments (mpaskewicz@nvps.net). I will continue to keep you in the information loop as we continue to make decisions.

Sincerely and With Great Respect,

Mike Paskewicz