Flint School board pink slips more staff as it continues war against deficit
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
Wednesday was the last day of class for Flint schools. The lockers are cleared out, and the hallways echo with silence. But school leaders are still at work, trying to chip away at a huge budget deficit in hopes of keeping the district in local control.
"The worst thing that could happen to our students in this district is for an emergency manager to come in," said Flint Schools Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins.
The school board is under the gun by the state. With a $10.4 million deficit, the district has a strict deficit-elimination plan it must follow to chip away at the problem. On Wednesday night, the board voted to pink-slip another 12 teachers, five para-pros and three non-instructional staff members. That's in addition to the 91 teachers already laid off last month.
"It's painful. It's painful for the teachers. It's painful for the fact that they have to go through the summer without insurance. They have to find their own insurance," said Flint's teacher's union president Ethel Johnson.
But it's not just teachers feeling the pinch. Two weeks ago, more than 250 noninstructional staff members were laid off, including cafeteria workers. Wednesday, the Flint school board agreed to a contract with Sodexo-Magic to provide food services in an attempt to save money. Magic Johnson is the chief executive officer, and this is the outsourcing service Saginaw Public Schools uses.
"Those employees working in the cafeteria prior to us coming on board will have first choice, the first opportunity, at those jobs," said Sodexo-Magic Vice President Antonio Hunter.
Watkins said the best way to stop the bleeding is to retain as many students as possible heading into the next school year.
Next week, the Flint School Board will meet for a special meeting to discuss and potentially pass next year's budget. Included in the budget are not only some of the cuts already made, but also the possible closure of Northern High School for good. Northern is currently used as an alternative education building.
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