Hopkins discusses reducing custodians, athletic transportation

Kayla Deneau, Staff Writer

Hopkins Public Schools administration intend to inform  custodial staff of cuts being made to the department.

“Custodial reductions have been discussed since I began coming to these meetings back in June,” said superintendent Gary Wood at the Monday, Aug. 4, school board planning session.

Wood took over the superintendent position from Chris Stephens in July.

The school board discussed switching the district to an every-other-day cleaning schedule.

The switch would save the district approximately $80,000 annually, but would result in the reduction of 1.5 full-time equivalent positions.

District business manager Katie Jager said three actual positions would be affected with two half-time custodians being laid off and a full-time custodian who would be reduced to half-time.

“It’s a tough thing to do,” Wood said, “No one has officially been told yet, but it is time to tell them.”

Jager said board members are working to adhere to a 10-year plan to increase the district’s fund balance to 15 percent of expenditures. The balance is at 5.13 percent after the last school year.

Wood said the fund balance is considered dangerously low.

She said the custodial reduction was not in the proposed budget for the coming school year but that the teachers received a larger increase than was budgeted for.

“We had to make up the savings some way,” Jager said. “If we didn’t reduce the custodians and kept the teachers’ increase, (the fund balance) would remain flat.”

She said the teachers’ contract includes a salary increase and an extra personal day, totally an additional $75,000 from the budget.

Wood said when the prelimiray 2014-2015 budget was created, teacher contracts were still in negatiation.

“The way things ended up, cuts needed to be made to meet the board’s budget,” he said. “They had been discussing possible reductions since June and this one seemed viable.”

At the planning session, the board discussed eliminating Saturday athletic transportation as another method to increase the fund balance.

Official decisions on both subjects will be made at the board’s Aug. 18 regular meeting.

For full story, pick up a copy of the Aug. 7 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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