Flint school board votes on deficit elimination plan - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint school board votes on deficit elimination plan

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(01/13/14) - There are some painful changes for Flint community schools as the district struggles to make up a $19 million shortfall.

The board is talking about cutting pay by nearly 20 percent and adding as many as five students to each classroom.

Teachers say they're heartbroken after learning that their jobs could be on the line.

After seeing this deficit elimination plan, some aren't sure how they're going to make ends meet.

"If they take that much of my pay, I'm going to be making less than $350 a week," said Tammy Benedict, a teacher.

Benedict, who has taught at Northwestern in Flint for the past eight years, says she may have to look for a second job now that possible job cuts and a reduction in wages and compensation could be on the way this year.

"How are you going to bring people back into Flint if you're getting rid of the teachers? If you can find another job, they're gone," she said.

School board members voted to approve a deficit elimination plan that calls for a 19 percent reduction in wages and compensation for all employees as well as job cuts in order to meet class size targets.

"I'm clearly trying to understand where you see that this is going to help our children," said Dave Davenport, a school board member.

It means closing buildings and outsourcing maintenance, technology, clerical and technical support as well as substitute teachers and security services.

"That's not good for the kids either, they don't care about the kids," Benedict said.

Some cuts could come as early as this month.

"It's much better for us to be at the table making the decision for the students of the Flint Community Schools versus someone from the outside coming in," said Larry Watkins, interim superintendent.

Davenport, who doesn't agree with the board's decision, says he also doesn't like the possibility of growing classroom sizes.

"Then they've also agreed to add five extra students per class per teacher, that will allow a teacher to have 42 children in a classroom by themselves. You cannot educate children respectfully off 42.

I think the state is better off coming in getting this thing straight while it's a low number of a deficit because if not, they're going to be in it forever if it gets any deeper.

The DEP will be submitted to the state Wednesday. Then the superintendent will have conversations with the treasury department. The goal is to attempt to get a loan for $15.6  million.

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