The Lansing School Board has approved its 2021 budget. The district’s $160 million plan is about $10 million less than last year. The cuts come as the state struggles to craft its own budget in the face of an unprecedented economic blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic. School districts across the state are putting numbers to paper with no clear sense of how much they’ll receive in state aid. WKAR's Kevin Lavery spoke with Superintendent Sam Sinicropi about what it all means for Lansing.
We're looking at a projected enrollment decrease and a projected state foundation allowance decrease. Our budget reflects a $650 reduction in foundation allowance.
That sounds pretty draconian, What does that really mean in terms of the everyday ability to educate students going forward in the fall?
We were fortunate we had enough of a fund balance that we're covering the shortfall this year. But the fund balance is like a savings account; it doesn't keep getting replenished all the time. So we hopeful that we aren't going to affect student instruction this year.
We were fortunate we had enough of a fund balance that we're covering the shortfall this year. But the fund balance is like a savings account; it doesn't keep getting replenished all the time. So we're hopeful that we aren't going to affect student instruction this year.
Were staff cuts spared because of this fund balance?
This reflects a decrease or reduction of about 35 staff and it's going to be done by attrition, mostly. We’ve also projected a slight loss in enrollment, which would then indicate a corresponding loss of teaching staff.
Attrition, but no layoffs, then?
No, there's no layoffs right at this moment.
The state of Michigan is still grappling with its budget numbers. Michigan was supposed to have a July 1 deadline to get its budget together, but COVID-19 came in and they've pushed that all back. Everything seems to be in limbo, so how do you even go forward in crafting anything on paper?
Well, we are required by law to have a balanced budget adopted by June 30 of each year. And it is very difficult with all the unknowns. That's why we've projected a reduction of $650 per student, not knowing exactly what it is. It's an unsettled time for schools.
Will classes resume in person or will students continue with remote learning?
I would say that we are trying to prepare for every circumstance right now. We are working on return to school plan that hopefully will be ready by the end of July. We're going to hold a series of meetings with staff and community to get input from them and then make our final cuts and see where we're at.