School News Network: District faces deficit, hopes to maintain staffing

Superintendent Thomas Reeder

By Erin Albanese

School News Network


On May 2, voters in the Kent ISD region will be asked to approve a 0.9 mill tax for local school districts, generating $211 per student to maintain programs, improve services and meet other needs. School News Network is offering information on what the millage means for each of the 20 districts in the Kent ISD. Today we focus on Wyoming Public Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent Thomas Reeder


How much revenue would your district gain from the millage in the first year?


It depends on student enrollment changes, but in excess of $900,000.


What would you spend that increased revenue on, and how would this help your students?
“Our focus will be to maintain or improve upon our current staffing related to classroom instruction,” Reeder said, noting that the amount of revenue that would go toward staffing would depend on state funding and whether the district faces a budget crunch. Gov. Snyder has proposed a 1.3 percent increase in the state per-student aid budget for schools.


Other goals are increasing the number of extended-day and summer programs for all students, “from our most at-risk to our most gifted,” with more classes and learning opportunities. Ideas are for computer, band and theater programming.


A Parkview Elementary student picks out a book at his reading level. The district hopes to give every student more learning opportunities with the enhancement millage. (Photo courtesy of School News Network)

The district is also looking at improving technology support and resources at all levels, as well as increasing safety and security at all sites with improved surveillance equipment, Reeder said. Purchasing a bus each year to keep the fleet current is another goal.


The district also would like to add more staff members to work with students experiencing mental-health challenges.


If the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
“We will continue to make reductions as necessary, attempting to stay as far away from the classroom as possible, but will be unable to add any programming or other resources to the current model,” Reeder said. “The impact depends very much on what decisions are made at the state level related to funding.”


The district faces a projected $910,000 deficit in next year’s budget, depending on enrollment, and has a fund balance of about 10 percent. The recommended fund balance for Michigan schools is 15 to 20 percent, according to the Michigan School Business Officials.


What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
Reeder said he has not yet heard any objections. He plans to host two community meetings in April to discuss the enhancement millage and a Wyoming Public Schools November bond request that would not raise property taxes.


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