150 to be laid off from Southfield Public Schools
Posted April 15, 2009
‘Things are not OK,’ district official says
SOUTHFIELD — Facing declining enrollment and rising costs, Southfield Public Schools expects to lay off some 150 employees before the 2009-2010 school year, according to Ken Siver, deputy superintendent for the district.
The positions are across the board, including teachers, aides, secretaries and administrators, Siver said.
“Things are not OK,” Siver said. “We are expecting a 350-student loss next year. We have much smaller incoming classes than we do graduating classes. I think we’re at the end of our rope. (But) we’re not cutting any programs. What we’re doing is eliminating a number of positions that are tied to enrollment. … We’ve found places where it was good to have this extra staff, but we can no longer afford it.”
For example, the district has had aides in most special education classes, which is not required, Siver said. Those jobs will be cut.
“It is not required, and there’s no funding for it; it was this thing you could do if you could afford it,” he explained. “When you have money, you spend it differently than when you don’t.”
The district is holding a press conference today at 2 p.m.
“We would like the opportunity to explain this, because our goal is to have the public understand what we’re doing,” Siver said. “I think some people are going to be confused because the millage passed.”
In November, 59 percent of voters approved a renewal of the school district millage, which accounts for 50 percent of the district’s revenue. By law, a Michigan school district must have some form of voter-approved millage in order to acquire state funding.
“We are very, very concerned,” said Patricia Haynie, executive director of the Southfield Coordinating Council of the Michigan Education Association. “We believe the cuts are not to the best interest of providing a comprehensive educational program that this community has supported for years through the passage of millages.”
Southfield teachers are currently operating without a contract, as negotiations have been under way since before the old contracts expired last August.
“(We’ve had) very little progress,” Haynie said. “There’s still a number of issues that are outstanding.”
Last April, in an effort to eradicate the district’s $7 million deficit, the Southfield Board of Education made a controversial decision to privatize transportation, custodial and food service employment, which left 279 district staffers without employment.
The school board is expected to make a final decision on the layoffs at its April 21 meeting.
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