Esky schools prepare for job cuts

Many U.P. school districts are faced with declining enrollment while the amount of funding per student from the state has been stagnant.

That often means being forced into budget cuts, and budget cuts for schools mean job losses.

The Escanaba Area Public Schools are losing more than 20 jobs this fall.

The school board passed an organization plan for next school year this week.

The board approved the job cuts last week.

“The last thing we want to do is lay off staff,” superintendent Michele Lemire said. “It just is heart-wrenching to be able to do that, or to have to do that. We had to really look carefully at how we provide education a little bit differently because we’d have fewer staff members next year.”

Ten positions will come from the Junior-Senior High School.

Seven will come from the Upper Elementary School.

The K-through-3 levels will lose the equivalent of eight full-time jobs and one part-time position.

“Escanaba’s had a pattern of declining enrollment for many years,” Lemire said. “We anticipate a loss next year, but we’re really hoping we don’t lose that many students. We average about 40 students (lost) per year.”

However, the district is also creating some new programs.

One of them is a virtual career center opening this fall in cooperation with the downstate Berrien Springs Public Schools.