Thursday, March 18, 2010

While Lawmakers Grandstand, Schools Cut Hundreds of Jobs

They grandstand about health care reform. The grandstand about eating meat. If only our legislators and candidates for office cared about our children's education as much as they cared about kissing up to special interest money. Can you imagine what that would be like? Can you?

While all that posturing was going on for the TeeVee cameras and campaign checking accounts, here is a roundup of stories from just last night about cuts that schools are making. Keep in mind, this is before the latest $118 per-pupil cut that came out of the Senate yesterday.

Just last night. And this happens every day, as districts around the state are still grappling with last year's cuts.

Jackson Public Schools - 50 employees are losing jobs, 30 are moving to part-time. "The cuts would eliminate half of the kindergarten teaching staff, nine elementary teachers, four middle school teachers and six high school teachers. Additionally, social workers and instructional specialists would also be cut under the proposed plan." Five administration positions are gone, labor concessions are made to the tune of $1.4 million. They are hoping to privatize busing. Key words in this story: "If the 58 employees signed up to take the state's retirement package leave the district, most of the jobs could be saved." Voluntary separation is much better than forcing people out.

Bronson - the Coldwater Daily Reporter is a subscription service, but the teaser reads "In an effort to reduce a budget deficit, the Bronson Board of Education took action Tuesday night making a series of cuts for the 2010-11 fiscal year. All of the cuts directly affect school personnel." Eliminating an asst. superintendent, cuts to counseling and athletic department.

Garden City - "Garden City board considers layoffs, school changes". Consolidating schools, privatizing bus service.

Lakeview - Lakeview bus drivers claim the district would not let union employees bid for a transportation contract against private companies. The district claims privatization will save four teaching positions. 20 drivers are affected.

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port - Looking at "staffing cuts" of 10 positions; 7 teachers and 3 administrative positions. The school board offered retirement incentives, which teachers are expected to take.

Bullock Creek - Will combine with other Midland County districts and outsource custodial staff. Current custodians are trying to negotiate to keep their jobs, offering pay cuts. The district is considering pay-to-play sports at the middle and high school, and also considering a student parking fee at the high school. Eight other positions besides custodians are on the block.

Flint - 73 pink slips were issued yesterday to "principals, teachers, and staff to one of Michigan’s largest school districts." Building closings could happen next year.

Livonia - "cutting some transportation, boosting pay-to-play fees and eliminating as many as 90 teachers, support staff and other positions", privatizing custodial, transportation and food service, closing buildings, raising the price of school lunches. (this story was from early this morning)

Kingsley/Suttons Bay - Governor Granholm is still working the phones, calling school officials to try to get them to pressure the Legislature to do the right thing. In this story about the governor's call, it is revealed that Suttons Bay is looking to get rid of busing and transfer it to the Bay Area Transportation Authority, and could possibly cut seven or eight teachers. Suttons has already "cut nurses, an elementary librarian, counselors, teacher's aides and bus drivers." Kinglsey has made staffing cuts as well, changed health care providers, and has put off needed maintenance to buildings.

Wyoming/Kentwood/Godwin Heights - In another call from the governor, this time to West Michigan superintendents, the story tells of Wyoming and Godwin closing buildings and increasing the student-to-teacher ratio in classrooms - which means cutting staff. Kentwood has "50 fewer teachers this year, and haven't bought a new textbook in grades 6 through 12 in two years."

One night of stories from around the state. Hundreds of jobs lost. Children losing teachers, perhaps losing sports opportunities, busing to get to school, and long-time, trusted school personnel that they love, for strangers from private companies.

As lawmakers are grandstanding about meat.

Keep this in mind the next time one of them brags about having a BBQ this Saturday - and then stop and consider if that person has the right priorities when it comes to holding office.