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Suggested Budget Cuts for Trenton Public Schools

Several suggested budget cuts were acquired during four public budget forums last week and were presented at Monday's Board of Education meeting.

Superintendent John Savel introduced several suggested budget cuts and changes at Monday's regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting.

The Trenton School District had four public forums last week to discuss the budget and places within the budget where the district may have to make cuts and changes.

Savel said the district needs to cut about $3 million out of the current budget.

The budget cuts and changes are in anticipation of the approval of Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget cuts for public schools. Snyder proposed cutting about $470 dollars per student on top of cuts in recent years that have significantly reduced the amount of per student funding in Michigan public schools.

Trenton's current budget is about $26 million and the general fund balance was at about $2.5 million at the start of the school year. Savel said the fund balance would likely be at about $1.4 million by March 2011.

According to Board of Education member Mike Hawkins the forums had low attendance. Despite the low turnout, a list was made of potential places to make cuts and changes in the budget.

This is a list of the suggested budget cuts and changes as read by Savel at the meeting:

  • Ask the teacher's union for a pay decrease.
  • Eliminate all bus service.
  • Make athletics fully pay to play.
  • Pay to play or reasonable rate and maybe a percent of a cost per program.
  • Eliminate middle school sports as travel, make them all intramural and have high school students or parents volunteer to coach teams.
  • Terminate paid event ticket sales position. Make it volunteers–NHS students and parents from the sports.
  • Apply for grants to convert buses over to bio-fuel (vegetable oil from restaurants).
  • Eliminate art and music at the elementary schools. Kindergarten through third-grade students do projects in class already that are considered art. Have kids sing the National Anthem every morning—teachers can play music in class or maybe allow older grades to bring in mp3 players.
  • Both art and music can become pay-to-participate programs, after-school programs where each day one grade level meets for a certain time period (45 minutes) for a couple of weeks (eight weeks) for a small fee ($20).
  • Student parking: Charge a moderate fee for kids to drive to school and use the parking lot.
  • Close the middle school; move seventh- and eighth-grade students to the high school and sixth-grade students to the elementary schools.
  • Create a citywide business giveback percentage to the school district.
  • Sinking fund.
  • Think about closing the middle school pool.
  • High school and maybe middle school could go to four days in school and one day at home. Teachers could still be available by web and phone, kids would still do work, but operational costs could be cut by 20 percent.
  • Divert all paper disposal and recycling in city to school recycling. Paper, metal and glass could generate some revenue.
  • Print double-sided pages at every level.
  • Do small lotteries at city activities.
  • Use of public transportation.
  • Review health insurance policies.
  • Consolidation of services with other districts or the city.
  • Schools of choice at lower elementary to make up for projected decrease in enrollment.
  • Elimination of middle school sports and move to intramural sports.
  • Listen to any and all concessions from the Trenton Education Association.
  • Open limited school of choice for kindergarten through fifth grades.
  • Put board meetings and forums on cable and archive web site viewing.
  • Plan bus routes with fewer turns, saving money on fuel.

Savel said he could not provide an estimated value of each budget idea at the time of the meeting.

my name March 15, 2011 at 08:40 PM
* Ask the teacher's union for a pay decrease. -ask yourself for a pay decrease, how much do superindents make? * Eliminate all bus service. - Ah the new picked-up-by-strangers-in-a-windowless-van service! * Make athletics fully pay to play. - Just what we need, more lazy kids. * Pay to play or reasonable rate and maybe a percent of a cost per program. -What's your definition of reasonable b/c this whole thing is unreasonable. * Eliminate middle school sports as travel, make them all intramural and have high school students or parents volunteer to coach teams. -first part is reasonable but good luck finding volunteers. * Terminate paid event ticket sales position. Make it volunteers–NHS students and parents from the sports. - no way this could backfire (/sarcasm) * Apply for grants to convert buses over to bio-fuel (vegetable oil from restaurants). - decent, i'll give you that one assuming buses aren't cut. * Eliminate art and music at the elementary schools. Kindergarten through third-grade students do projects in class already that are considered art. Have kids sing the National Anthem every morning—teachers can play music in class or maybe allow older grades to bring in mp3 players. - how much does art cost? last time i checked kids bring their own supplies.
my name March 15, 2011 at 08:41 PM
* Both art and music can become pay-to-participate programs, after-school programs where each day one grade level meets for a certain time period (45 minutes) for a couple of weeks (eight weeks) for a small fee ($20). -I don't see a savings here, you are still running facilities an extra 45 min. * Student parking: Charge a moderate fee for kids to drive to school and use the parking lot. - This one is decent * Close the middle school; move seventh- and eighth-grade students to the high school and sixth-grade students to the elementary schools. - Uh, cost to do all that? * Create a citywide business giveback percentage to the school district. - you're going to force businesses to give money? Doesn't that hurt small businesses? * Sinking fund. - uh wtf, don't build schools on marshland. * Think about closing the middle school pool. - Supported * High school and maybe middle school could go to four days in school and one day at home. Teachers could still be available by web and phone, kids would still do work, but operational costs could be cut by 20 percent. -Decent
my name March 15, 2011 at 08:43 PM
* Divert all paper disposal and recycling in city to school recycling. Paper, metal and glass could generate some revenue. -do what now? Doesn't someone have to sort it. What about the city workers. * Print double-sided pages at every level. - Nice in theory * Do small lotteries at city activities. - yeah teach kids to gamble, that's the skills they really need * Use of public transportation. - you cut buses remember? * Review health insurance policies. - people don't need health * Consolidation of services with other districts or the city. - costs more in the beginning * Schools of choice at lower elementary to make up for projected decrease in enrollment. - projected decrease? more like planned decrease. * Elimination of middle school sports and move to intramural sports. - Should work * Listen to any and all concessions from the Trenton Education Association. - Might as well * Open limited school of choice for kindergarten through fifth grades. - Whatever that means but it doesn't sound good. * Put board meetings and forums on cable and archive web site viewing. - what is done now? websites cost money buddy * Plan bus routes with fewer turns, saving money on fuel.- You just thought of this? Wow you really do need help.
derp derp March 15, 2011 at 08:47 PM
These are all valid ideas in the face of a 3 million dollar budget cut. If you have better ideas, now would be the time to field them.
my name March 15, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Increase taxes on the top 2%.
my name March 15, 2011 at 09:08 PM
School board members take a pay cut.
bw March 15, 2011 at 10:40 PM
im disgusted at most of the comments here! Are we really criticizing their plans to make up for the budget cut? WHY NOT CRITICIZE THE FOLKS THAT FORCED THE CUT IN THE FIRST PLACE ?- what we schooling we are left with is pathetic and our Government should be ashamed.
bw March 15, 2011 at 10:41 PM
please dont be ignorant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_fund
Jay Gulley March 16, 2011 at 01:20 AM
school board members are paid $0. Most of these comments are so off base, these suggestions were from parents and members of community that took the time to attend budget meetings
Sam I Am March 16, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Facts: ~1100 hours of instruction/student. That's about 20 hours/week over the course of 12 months. Teachers... 20-25 days vacation + 12 paid holidays + 6 paid sick days + 3 personal days + probably other paid time off. The rest of TPS's compensation programs are similarly disgusting. Is anyone from private industry shaking their heads right now?
Sarah March 16, 2011 at 08:16 AM
Unfortunately, teachers only get paid for the months they work. This leaves them without pay for three months in the summer unless the work summer session, which are slowly being cut from the budget as well. And don't forget to add the hours of grading and planning every day after school. Yes, getting 250 graded papers back to students takes time. Lots and lots of time.
Annie Ominous March 16, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Board members are unpaid. The supe, though I do not agree with many of the things he has done, has also done some very good things during his tenure and is among the lower paid for comparable positions. I am quite frankly shocked at the level of ignorance in many of these comments. People keep parroting back that the TPS are top heavy in administration. They have already outsourced their business manager with a less qualified CPA, and have the buildings down to 1 administrator a piece at the elementary level, 2 total at the middle school, and 4 at the high school including the athletic director. Divide the number of kids into these numbers, then look at the behavioral issues, attendance, etc, and the staffing levels are low if anything. RE: Teacher work schedules / benefits.Every one should have good benefits, and it is a testament to how screwed up this country has gotten when people think that teachers are 'bad' for having benefits, accrued vacation time, etc. Teachers have a high barrier to entry ( BA min.), have to constantly take classes to retain their certification, and many have masters degrees. Those whining from the private sector probably have not made the investment in themselves to allow themselves to reap or expect a good job, with good pay. The real problem here is the broken funding model for schools, the idiot Rick Synder and the advance of corporate-think psychology into our public schools. Don't let Lansing ruin our town and schools. Do something!
tiredeast March 21, 2011 at 10:51 AM
Trenton HIgh School Band already pays for transportation, uniforms, instruments, staff, flag corps, band camp, and everything else through the band booster group. There is no budget for the elementary band program which meets before school. Elementary general music already employs teachers part time. My son takes guitar at the high school and has to buy his own book, guitar, and supplies. You can't cut anything from something that doesn't cost anything already.
Trenton Mom of 3 March 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM
I am not a fan of Savel, BUT, that being said, I realize he is dealing with a congress and senate in this state and a federal government prior to 2008 (no child left behind was severely unfunded) had to have been more than a little difficult. Our state legislature has been HORRIBLE for schools. As for parents here being cynical, I can relate...many things were offered up as ideas but dismissed because at that point we were only in crisis of the mindset of Dr. Savel, NOT in REAL crisis like we are now. We LOST a potential revenue source in closing Taylor to soon. It could have been used for paid pre-school, school of choice, gifted programs, etc., etc., once closed the opportunity is LOST til it is up to code. The comment above, talking about broken funding and the new "corporate-think" psychology has my admiration and respect. If you want to do something why not DEMAND that the banks give you, and your neighbor and our schools, fire departments, police officers, and the rest of working class america (whether they be union or non-union) DEMAND they PAY IT BACK WITH INTEREST AND THEN PAY THEIR TAXES. USUNCUT.COM Imagine if YOU didn't pay YOUR taxes, what would happen to an individual...Well Corporations got Judges to give them rights, time to treat them like they treat us...You took the money, time to pay up or give the tax payers YOUR land, property and assets!
Fed Up March 22, 2011 at 10:01 PM
I want to start by saying I commend the people who attended the budget meetings and made suggestions. You are probably the same handful who attend board meetings. For those of you who just looked at the list and started tearing it apart, you should be ashamed and embarrassed. Im sorry what suggestions did you bring to the table? I think there are some great ideas there and why not give them a try. We all know where the real cut needs to be made and needed to be made back in Nov. of 09 when all this started. The time we were show a pie chart and 85% was salary and benefits. Now since that time everyone in the district has take cuts or even lost their jobs but one group. We all know all of t his is caused by state cuts. But isnt that one group acting just like the "state" of our district ...its ok for the lil guys and everyone to give up pay wages and pay benefits but the ones that make the bulk of the wages havent. (Just like the State) Im tired of hearing of all the hours they put in, the amount of kids in their classes, they have to grade on weekends, they have masters degrees. Well guess what, we put in 15 hour days Monday through Friday and work weekends 8 hours each day. We are salary and we dont get paid OT. We have masters and other degrees. We usually deal with children only they are known as adults. We dont have summers off and we just took huge pay cuts yet have to pay even more for benefits. We dont have PTO' s that
Fed Up March 22, 2011 at 10:12 PM
do great things for us and make our jobs more easier. We dont have people that come in and clean up for us so in the morning we come in and have a clean start to a new day. Do I think we have amazing teachers in Trenton, like any job, yes we have many amazing teachers. Do they deserve what they get paid, of course they do! But at this day and time when the rest of the world has taken pay cuts and given up benefits its time they step up too. I want to ask them, are you saying what we do for a living isnt as important or we dont deserve to be paid what we are worth? That being said the one thing I do not want to happen is to lose the amazing support staff that Trenton has. The custodians and bus drivers who know our children and our schools better than probably anyone in the district. Its time we try some of the ideas listed. The pay for parking, the not paying secretaries and school people money to take money at events, pay to play a reasonable amount. Like the band teams may have to start doing some fundraising. Nothing wrong with the kids earning what they get...have a car wash. There were many good ideas on there. Was it ashame that Taylor was closed, definately, but to keep dwelling on something thats done and to keep bringing it up is not dealing with the issues we have right here and now. And you can blame the board as much as you want but they are just like the rest of us dealing with what they have been given. If its easy, why wasnt your name on the ballot.
Sarah March 22, 2011 at 10:36 PM
I'm sorry, but there seem to be some things you're missing. Most importantly, don't forget the reasons we're in a budget crisis. Don't be angry with the the working class for their mediocre wages when there are millionaires and billionaires who get their incomes increased during a "recession". That may be separate from this specific topic, but your anger seems misplaced. Also, there are several teachers who get salaries cut. My father, who has been a teacher for ten years, is getting his salary cut by TEN percent next year. His options for summer income are being cut as they're eliminating summer school. His department lost three teachers, which means he has at least 40 students in a class at all times, and they're eliminating 1-6 periods (teachers can only have a 1-5), which means teachers can't have a full class set. (FYI: this lowers their income.) I'd say he's taken a pretty hard hit. But I do agree that some of these suggestions should be tried.
Fed Up March 22, 2011 at 11:44 PM
I agree that is a hard hit. I wasnt referring to other districts where everyone shared in the hardships brought on by the state. I was referring to the matter at hand, The Trenton School District. I think Im pretty right on the nose with this . And I guess you didnt read everything because I did say I who is to blame ...the State.

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