L’Anse schools face big deficit

L’ANSE – Members of the L’Anse Area Schools Board of Education discussed some tough decisions they’ll have to make regarding the 2013-14 school year.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Superintendent Ray Pasquali said he recommended several cuts to staff, capital and services because of an expected decrease in available funding for the district.

“Our preliminary budget for 2013-14 should see a decrease in revenue of $352,849,” he said.

Most of that reduction is due to a drop in state aid caused by a decline in enrollment, Pasquali said.

Before the implementation of the proposed cuts, Pasquali said the projected deficit for the district is $777,535.

He suggested cuts to athletics, layoffs or hours reductions or transfers for some staff, and reductions in capital outlays for a total of $568,117.68, Pasquali said.

Even if the proposed budget is approved, Pasquali said the deficit will still be more than $200,000.

“It’s why we have to have a healthy fund balance,” he said.

There was consideration to privatize bus service and other services in the district, but Pasquali said members of the district’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union voted to decertify the union in exchange for not privatizing services, which will allow them to keep their jobs.

Pasquali said there were suggested changes for special education involving resignations, layoffs and reassignments, which would further reduce costs.

Two bus runs were suggested for elimination, also, Pasquali said.

To further cut costs, Pasquali said board members voted to support the idea of asking for a millage to support the public library, which currently shared with the district.

Pasquali said the members of the board of education will vote on the proposed 2013-14 at their June 17 meeting.

In other business, the board members:

approved the Copper Country Intermediate School District 2013-14 budget.

approved several levels of probation for eight teachers.

acknowledged tenure for Robert Bohlsen and Amanda Rinkinen.

approved membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the 2013-14 school year.