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Strategy

November 23, 2009

We need a strategy.  I have said it and others have said it to me as well.  Historian Edward Mead Earle describes strategy as “the art of controlling and utilizing the resources of a nation to the end that its vital interests shall be effectively promoted and secured.”  Clearly, we need a strategy – both short term and long term.

In the short term, we need a multi-faceted approach to balancing our budget.  Facing a 2 year $5.4 million shortfall – we need to develop a balanced plan using what I call the three C’s.  This includes Cash (the use of revenue & possibly a portion of fund balance), Concessions and Cuts. This week, we will begin to develop the list of cost saving measures to reduce the $2 million hole for the 2009-2010 school year.  Many of these may be orchestrated during the second half of this school year.   We have targeted $250,000-$300,000 in non-staff cost reductions which will likely including freezes on supplies, reducing building budgets, restructuring events, etc.

The next step will be to determine possible staff reductions.  The process will take place in December and January with recommendations to the Board of Education in late January.  As Saline Area Schools has experienced in recent years, mid-year staff cuts create a serious disruption to the educational process.  Unfortunately, these are serious times.

After the process to address the 09-10 budget, we will need to look at this issue in terms of  the 2010-2011 school year.  Budgeting for 2010-2011 would typically start in January.  We will be looking for the most up to date (and accurate?) information from Lansing.  With the long term “cloudy” forecast, we will need to be conservative in our fiscal decisions. The 10-11 budget must be adopted by June 30th.

We are also developing a timeline and process for a “Strategic Plan” that can help guide us and provide instructional priorities for the next several years.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb permalink
    November 23, 2009 9:43 pm

    Will Michigan be participating in the RaceToTheTop plan? Also, I am curious about Obama’s STEM initiative.
    Thanks,
    deb

  2. David Rhoads permalink
    November 24, 2009 1:37 pm

    A friend mentioned that several Michigan school districts have adopted the Montessori teaching method which resulted not only in reduced costs but also increased the learning ability of students with different skill levels. Utica and Okemos have changed already and Adrian is studying the possibility.

  3. LCM permalink
    November 24, 2009 10:58 pm

    Has any thought been given to the idea of a 4 school day week Tues through Fri, and adding (dare I say it?) up to 40 minutes to the day? It worked for several schools in Kentucky and Ohio and has saved them tremendous amount of money. It saves on transportation, school usage, jobs, curriculum, and is not only a workable solution but acceptable and appealing. I would recommend this as a strategy and wouldn’t dismiss the idea so readily as unfavorable or unworkable.

  4. November 27, 2009 9:32 am

    Sorry for the delay in responding.

    Deb – It is still not clear if Michigan will be eligible to go after the RTTT funds from the federal government. If as a State we are – then there is a strong possibility that Saline (in possible partnership with other local districts) will attempt to bring the funds to support innovative programs.

    David – I have a call into Adrian and Okemos to learn more.

    LCM – The 4 day week does have several advantages from a financial perspective. We could also provide fun and innovative programs (fee-based) on the 5th day of the week that we do not have school. We do have several contractual limitations that would need to be worked out. The other issue that seems to be gaining steam in Lansing is going back to a minimum number of student days. Right now, we have 175 student days in our school year. The State has set the minimum at 165, so we would need to look at in terms of how we set up the year. There is also the “1098 hours” requirement – but as you stated, we could address that issue by extending the length of each day. This idea is “on the table” for discussion.

  5. November 27, 2009 11:25 pm

    As we view our options I am becoming more pessimistic as to the realistic options the lie ahead. Given the stark realities of not only our financial situation but all public schools in Michigan, programming can not be the same. Our graduates will be faced with some of the highest tuition costs in the nation, consequently as an electorate we have failed the youth of this state. The question arises as to when our generation decided that economic self worth was more valuable than the common good? The sacrifices that will be made will be questioned by some members of the community but they are a direct consequence of a dysfunctional state legislature and the defeat of the millage. The answers to our problems are not local but resonate from Lansing. As a board we can only react to the existing partisanship that has resulted in our current economic crisis.

  6. LCM permalink
    December 1, 2009 9:36 am

    Scot,
    We are in agreement with Doug’s comment. At a time when everyone else is asked, even told to make amendments and sacrifices, it seems that does not apply to the SEA. Would they rather have their classes cut and lose their jobs, having to look for teaching jobs elsewhere? That is what is on the table, so we are told. I doubt that many could find similar positions in Michigan, and many would have to go out of state. There are many wonderful educators in this system and we would hate to lose them, however if they are not willing or interested in being part of the solution, they are part of the problem. Opening up their contract would be one way to help be part of the solution. I applaud Doug for his frankness and courage in speaking out. We have known we have had “a problem” for over 2 years, and nobody wanted to admit it, much less listen. NOW we are told we have to roll up our sleeves- I would have thought and hoped that they would have already been rolled up. Let us ALL roll them up now, for the kids this town, Michigan and our future. Thanks

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