By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Twenty-five Wyandotte Public Schools teachers may lose their jobs.
The Board of Education voted April 5 to issue 60-day layoff notices to teachers as part of a cost-saving measure necessitated by cuts in Gov. Rick Snyder’s state budget, which could result in losses of as much as $3 million, or $400 per student.
The notices follow guidelines of state tenure acts, but there was debate at the meeting about whether they were mandated.
Board members passed the resolution 4-3, with Robert Kirby, Jerry Kupser, and Dana Browning opposing.
Supt. Patricia Cole said she hopes the district will be able to retain some of the teachers. The notices are to go into effect for the next school year.
“Due to our projected difficult financial picture for the next school year as proposed by the governor’s budget, we have no choice but to recommend the layoffs,” Cole said. “We hope, we pray, we must get positive budget clarification prior to the end of the school year and be able to recall some of the teachers.”
Kirby said he voted against the measure because there still is time left to make the decision. He said he would rather see the district develop a comprehensive budget reduction plan than allow the layoffs, which would have “disastrous” effects.
Browning said the district should have special meetings to discuss a possible budget plan, and to determine the possible effects of the staff cuts on class size.
“I think we have more than 60 days to play with here,” she said. “And I think we need to schedule an emergency board meeting, and let’s get this knocked out.”
The vote took place at that meeting because it was the last before Easter break, but some board members said it was premature.
“If you have to call a special meeting during Easter, well, then, the bunny can wait,” Kupser said.
Many members of the community also attended to speak out about possible cuts to the curriculum, including classes like auto shop.
Cole said no decisions regarding changes to curriculum have been made yet.
Business Manager David Gutenschwager said the state’s K-12 budget had more than $600 in excess revenues before the proposed budget, which could transfer those funds to higher education facilities. He urged attendees to contact their state and U.S. representatives to make the case for school funding.
Trustee Patrick Sutka said he voted in favor of the layoffs because he believes most of the teachers’ jobs will be saved.
“I’m going to rely on the past practice and move forward with this,” he said. “I guess im going to put a bit of hope on it.”