8.8.15: GRPS lays off 7 teachers
GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive)– The Grand Rapids Board of Education voted unanimously Monday, Aug. 17, to issue seven layoff notices to teachers because of “uncertainties in budget and programmatic needs” for the next school year, according to the resolution.
After resolving an $8 million deficit, the board in June approved a $197.5 million general fund budget for 2015-16. The current budget gets the districts to a 5 percent or $7.9 million fund balance or savings.
Larry Oberst, chief financial officer for GRPS, said the 17,000-student district has no flexibility anymore, having gone through its fund balance.
“If we miss enrollment numbers or if there is some other blip in expected revenues, we need to build in some flexibility to handle this,” said Oberst, who added the budget is built on a set of assumptions regarding revenue and spending.
“Hence, we may need the flexibility with staffing, which is the reason for the resolution.”
The layoffs will save the district about $500,000 on an annualized basis, he said.
John Helmholdt, communications director for GRPS, said he can’t recall the district ever laying off teachers in the single digits. It is further evidence the Transformation Plan, or district restructuring, is working.
Stabilizing enrollment also is a factor. Unlike past years, the district is not planning on 400 students or more to depart, which causes a loss of millions in state aid. This year, the budget projection is to lose only 14 students at a cost of $103,474 or $7,391 per student.
The budget deficit was eliminated primarily by cutting 46 positions in general and special education and the central office. Six of the positions were actual layoffs (not teachers) and the remainder stemmed from unfilled vacancies and restructuring.
In July, the board approved issuing layoff notices to 18 paraprofessionals and five family support specialists or support non-exempt workers, citing the same budgetary concerns. This spring, there also was some central office restructuring that eliminated two school reform officer positions.