School district starts budget cut conversation

MARQUETTE — The budget cut conversation has already started in one local school district.

At Monday night’s board of education meeting, Marquette Area Public Schools Superintendent, Bill Saunders, introduced reductions for the district’s budget. He said external forces, like the BLP rate increase and a change in state requirements for paying into pension plans were factors for the school’s $1.9 million deficit.

Part of the deficit also includes the bond projects that district has been working on. But one of the biggest concerns is the projected enrollment for the school. Though kindergarten enrollment is strong, Saunders said there is a noticeable trend of students leaving at higher grade levels. All of these issues culminate into what he calls a “perfect storm.”

“What happens then if we’re down another 100 kids-what does it start to look like? So finding that balance of where we feel comfortable with our fund equity and how we feel organizationally moving forward and making sure that we don’t have a major cut that’s going to really affect programming and affect us organizationally,” said Saunders.

Saunders proposed cuts include a 3.4 Full Time Employee (FTE) teacher reduction, a 15 FTE aide reduction, not filling department heads at the middle and high school and re-routing the busing for maximum efficiency. Budget cuts for the school district will be discussed more at the June 12 meeting with a final decision to adopt the budget at the June 26 meeting.