I want to thank all those who attended the December 21st Board of Education meeting at the Orion Center. Your interest in the future of Lake Orion Community Schools is greatly appreciated. For members of our community who could not attend or watch on ONTV, I want to provide you with a summary of the discussions that took place and decisions made. (You can also view this meeting in its entirety by clicking this link http://www.orionontv.org/education-access/)
Community member and parent Nate Butki, representing the 40-person Long-Range Planning Committee formed last spring, did an excellent job presenting its ideas for the Board’s consideration to change the district’s infrastructure and footprint in response to continued declining enrollment and state funding. The Committee also presented ideas for improving the District’s financial situation. There were a number of concepts introduced with some initial discussion among Board members and the District’s administrative leaders. Some of these included:
· Expansion of the district’s shared-time services program
· Pursuit of a voter-approved building and site fund (sinking fund)
· Privatization of transportation and other non-instructional services
· Optimization of building usage
· Change in the boundaries of school buildings
· Revisiting of the focus school concept
· Evaluation of building configurations
· Aggressive promotion of district’s competitive attributes
The Board recognized the need for much more discussion, information and evaluation of the ideas presented before any changes are made. A Board workshop is being scheduled in January to continue this process. This workshop, like regular Board meetings, will be open to the public. I want to stress that while some of the changes being discussed could be implemented as quickly as the start of the 2016-17 school year, most of them will involve significant planning and community engagement with a rollout over the next couple of years.
The other major discussion during the meeting focused on our $1.9 budget deficit for the current school year. After an overview of why this materialized, a number of reductions were presented to the Board to help balance the budget. These reductions could have been made as early as January.
The Board decided it did not make sense to make mid-year reductions and would rather consider them within the framework of making significant changes to the district’s infrastructure and footprint. The Board wants to take the Long-Range Planning Committee’s ideas into consideration when making any potential reductions. This involves taking a more in-depth look at the entire district’s operations over the next several months. The bottom line, however, is that our district’s Fund Equity account cannot be depleted further and up to $5 million may have to be eliminated from our operational expenses in the coming year to balance the budget moving forward.
I want to again thank the members of the Long-Range Planning Committee for their hard work over the past several months. I am very confident all decisions that will be made will position Lake Orion Community Schools to continue to flourish well into the future. You also have my assurance that we will provide ongoing and frequent communication to all stakeholders as well as solicit your input as discussions unfold.