District budget could mean rehired teachers

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Some of Wyandotte Public Schools’ 25 laid-off teachers may be rehired when the school year begins, trustees said Tuesday.

In the district’s budget, approved at the meeting, Supt. Patricia Cole said the balanced budget and fund balance of $1.9 million may allow the rehiring of two or three teachers.

Cole said, however, that no teachers can be rehired until the school year starts in case the district’s projected loss figure of 150 students falls short and more students leave the district.

“No matter what our projections are, no matter what people promise us, no matter how many people sign up for (the Schools of) Choice (program), you have to wait for the bodies to walk in the door,” Cole said. “You never know what has happened for a family in between.”

Trustee Robert Kirby disagreed, saying they should plan to hire the teachers back now to ensure class sizes stay small.

“If you don’t plan for it, you’re not going to get it,” Kirby said. “If you dont plan for rain, guess what, if it rains, you’re gonna get soaked. We’re gonna get soaked in the fall.”

Business Manager David Gutenschwager said there is a call-back list in place for teachers and the district would take seniority into account when selecting them.

In January, the district was looking at an increase of $400 per pupil in state funding from last year, Gutenschwager said. But Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent budget would cause a decrease in funding of $300 per pupil, $200 of which the district plans to offset by instituting some of Snyder’s “best practices” recommendations and employee concessions regarding health insurance.

Gutenschwager also said the predicted student loss figure was more than in each of the past two years, but was based on area trends. If there is no drop in student numbers, the district would see $1 million more in its budget and make “immediate staff changes.”

Cole said the district could start off the year with as much as $200,000 more in its budget, which would allow for the rehiring of even more teachers.

Kirby expressed concerns about rising class sizes if teachers are not immediately rehired, saying he has heard of as many as 38 children in a classroom, a figure he sees as an unnecessary burden on students and teachers.

“Putting the right teacher in is like a horse race,” Kirby said. “You can have a thoroughbred, but if you whip the thoroughbred enough, it’s just a horse. I don’t want to take a great teacher and make them good, I want to keep them great.”

Trustee Kathy Bedikian said the district will continue it’s commitment to low class sizes.

“We’re gonna do what we do every year because it’s never, ever been not the top value to keep low class sizes,” she said. “I’m not particularly worried. I’ll keep my eye open, but I believe we’re gonna make this right and I don’t believe for a second we’re going to have an elementary classroom with 36 kids.”