As you may know, however, these are very challenging times for all public schools in the state from a financial perspective. Over the past 5 years, Lake Orion has lost more than 600 students and the corresponding amount of state funding. These students have left for a variety of reasons, most notably because their families have moved out of Oakland County and, in many cases, the state. As a result of declining enrollment and other financial impacts from the state, the district currently has a deficit of $1.9 million for the current school year. Based on future student population projections and potential further financial implications, this deficit could increase to $5 million during the 2016-17 school year if nothing is done.
We have been faced with large deficits in the past and relied on targeted budget reductions and cost savings, as well as tapping the district’s shrinking fund balance to balance the budget. All of our employees have sacrificed for the good of our students during these times. Unfortunately, nobody expects the financial outlook of this school district or others in this state to improve noticeably in the future. If anything, the situation may grow worse. We are now at a point where significant changes need to be made to the district’s footprint and structure if it is to remain financially viable over the long-term with as minimal impact on our students as possible.
Our plan to exit this deficit situation includes making the difficult decision to implement major instructional and operational changes. Those that take place will be the result of recommendations put forth to the Board of Education by the administration and some from the long-range planning committee made up of parents, community members and Lake Orion staff that began meeting last summer. All of the information used by this committee is available to review on the district’s website.
The Board will begin reviewing these recommendations and discussing reductions at a special meeting on December 21st, which begins at 6 p.m. and which is open to the public. The meeting will be held at the Orion Center located at 1335 Joslyn Road in Lake Orion.
While this news is unsettling, I am very confident the changes to the district over the next few years will position Lake Orion Community Schools and its students for continued success for many years to come. Please know that any changes will be communicated to all stakeholders as decisions are made. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me.