Budget Gap Dogs Plymouth-Canton Schools

Plymouth-Canton Community School officials look for ways to cut up to $18 million from next year's budget.

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools officials on Tuesday discussed reducing the district's projected $18 million shortfall by using methods similar to those employed by the state.

But it won't be enough.

“We’re looking at a deficit of $10 (million) to $11 million that’s unresolved at this point,” said James Larson-Shidler, the district's assistant superintendent of business services. The state has cut funding to school districts by about $470 per pupil, which totals about $18 million of Plymouth-Canton's $162 million annual budget.

Larson-Shidler told the board members to expect "an overall decrease of 200 students."

New programs, including some form of schools of choice, would add students to the district, a net increase of 16 students, he said.

Larson-Shidler said another way to cut costs to the district is ask for employees to pay 4.2 percent more for retirement, a total of 24.46 percent of the contribution. “Each percent increase in the retirement rate is approximately $1 million in our budget,” Larson-Shidler said.

The proposed budget would include a hiring freeze, meaning no new positions in the next school year without the school board's review and approval.

The public hearing portion of Tuesday's meeting included concerns about funding cuts to a free early childhood program for disadvantaged 4-year-olds, known as the PLUS Preschool.

One parent, Michelle Foley of Canton, appealed to the board on behalf of the preschool's teachers and students. “These may be just teachers, but to any parents or students, they’re family," said Foley, whose daughter graduated from the school.

“We are not eliminating PLUS Preschool,” said Cindy Swift, assistant superintendent of instructional services. “We are looking for a way to fund it.”

Beth Sexton of Plymouth, a media specialist at Dodson Elementary School, asked the board to bolster her school's enrollment by transferring 200 students from Workman Elementary School to nearby Dodson.

Dodson is the second-youngest elementary school in the district, she said, and every classroom has about $110,000 worth of equipment. “But it is slowly being decimated by student population loss,” she said. “It will have seven empty classrooms next year.”

Interim Superintendent Jeremy Hughes said Sexton’s case put him in mind to take a look at school zoning and boundaries, which he said was "long overdue." Rezoning the school district has been discussed repeatedly this year, particularly while the board considered whether or not to close Fiegel Elementary.

The school board will finalize the 2011-12 budget at its June 28 meeting.

Robin Moore July 02, 2011 at 07:10 PM
I know that Erikkson 20 years ago, when me and my sister were going to Erikkson, had portables as well. It was not used for art, music, or preschool. My sister had her 3rd grade class room in that portable. But, of course, that was actaully about maybe 22 years ago. So, I don't know if Erikkson still uses the portable, and if they do, I don't know what they use it for. They could use it for art, music and preschool now, but back then, when I was going to Erikkson, they actually used it for actual class rooms.
jones July 02, 2011 at 07:17 PM
downupside1 I am in total agreement! I too am a Fiegel parent and wanted it to close! I think the board was weak and couldn't make a decision if they had 18 million dollars depending on them too!
Jen July 10, 2011 at 03:43 AM
It cracks me up that people think parents in this district are "babied." It is more correct to say "some parents, living in certain areas of the district are given consideration" but as a whole, I have found the board and administration completely non-responsive, condescending, often misleading,disrepectful and patronizing. Basically, decisions are made before parents know, and we basically can talk until we are blue in the face...they don't care (unless you are from the chosen area). I was active in an issue that impacted our school, was promised parental input, and then all communications simply STOPPED from the board and administrators. We have a board that will not work together, on EVERY issue you can almost take a 4-3 split to the bank and it is the same people..... Also,I've been an aunt, a very involved aunt....and I'm also a parent....there's a difference....a big one...not in how much you love them (I can honestly say I love each and everyone my siblings children as my own), but in how much you know and understand......it is rough to disband a school community......these kids identify with their community, their school spirit.....It isn't simply, "Oh just shuttle them down the block a mile." It is a big deal......In this economy, we all have to make adjustments....I'm not saying it should NOT be done....but it is NOT just a simple thing..... And look at the housing values of the schools protected from over crowding.....who is really coddled.
Jerry Grady July 12, 2011 at 02:05 PM
The issue is simple, what do you do when you have no more money to spend, you cut. What does goverment do, wine they need more money. Until they run the school as a business and make the tought decisions that need to be made this will continue to go on forever. It has nothing to do with empty space, it is all about getting re-elected so they can keep the so called power they feel they have. True leaders make the tough decisions and move on. No one likes it and everyone feels the pain, but take the emotions out of it. I moved here and entered into the 9th grade at Canton back in 1976 from a school system of less than 300 in high school. That school had over 2,000 when i entered. So i understand what it is like to move to a new school and deal with a new social enviornement. Kids are strong and flexible, they will make it thru any change. Think of the way this world works now and how people are moving everyday due to a world economy. Change is good, difficult, but good. Change and strong hard decisions are needed to put the Plymouth Canton School System back on the map.
Robin Moore July 12, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Jerry, you are absolutely right. Now adays, it's not even about what's good for this and what's good for that. It's all about these people in Government, will do anything they could to get the money. Its all about money and power. Not whether or not this is actually good for the school system, or for the kids. And change is good. But, it also depends on what kind of changes are being made if it is really good for us. And really, the government doesn't care if it's good for the country or the Plymouth-Canton school district or not, as long as they have the power to control us and we give them all the money that we earn in our job, they are satisfied. They wouldn't be good in our government if they didn't want all the money and power that we can give them. That’s why they want to tax us, all the time. They see that they ran out of money, what do you think is the first solution to the problem of getting more money? Raise up the taxes of course. So, that way, our pay checks are getting smaller while their pay checks are getting larger. So, go figure that one out.


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