April 13, 2011 —
As superintendent of Hudson Area Schools it is my responsibility to work along side our elected board of education, school families, community and staff to ensure that we provide the best education possible to our children. We do this first and foremost because we care about our children. We want them to have opportunities and we want them to be successful. We also do this because we care about our community. A strong and successful school district is part of what makes a strong and successful community. Although we are in the midst of one of the most challenging times of our lifetime, it is my hope to give you hope that we will make it through these difficult times and that we will be even better and stronger.
The primary problem that schools have encountered these past several years is that costs have increased substantially but revenue has decreased. For example; retirement costs will cost the district $978,932 for 11/12, $1,108,697 for 12/13 and $1,215,233 for 13/14. In addition, we have sky rocketing health care cost and greater state mandates. Over the past several years we have also seen revenue continue to decrease due to State cuts, enrollment loss and a decrease in property value.
Hudson Area Schools has been addressing these financial concerns by annually making reductions since 2002. As the financial crisis intensified in 2009 and the district entered into deficit an even more aggressive action was necessary. The district cut over $1.5 million dollars from its budget. This was a devastating reduction but with the help of a supportive staff it was doable. The district has balanced its budget and is on schedule to come out of deficit.
Now, we are preparing for the 2011/2012 school year. Governor Snyder has proposed his budget cuts. The result of these cuts will require another reduction of over $1 million dollars. This is a devastating proposition given all that the district has done these past years. It leaves few places to search for cost reductions.
I point out these facts not to frighten anyone but to create an opportunity to give hope. Just as we have done these past years we will continue to look for reductions. But, we will not compromise on a quality education and we will ensure that children receive valuable learning experiences. We are also in negotiations with our staff. Our staff love and support our students and this community. Together we will creatively find ways to take care of our staff and the needs of this district.
You may also be aware that Hudson Area Schools is placing a bond proposal on the May 3rd ballot. This is a critical part of our financial recovery. The purpose of the bond is only to take care of the facilities we have inherited. Many years ago, a generation similar to ours had a dream of a strong education and strong community and they provided what we have today. Our goal is only to care for what we have for future generations. Bond monies can only be used for items such updates, improvements, energy efficiencies and safety issues. (a more complete list can be found at http://www.securinghudsonareasfuture.com/ ). To see the needs of the district first hand, there will be grounds and facility tours Saturday, April 16 from 10 AM – Noon starting at the high school. Passage of this millage will preserve what we have and free funds currently being wasted on energy costs and maintenance and repairs needs.
Our community has always had a deep commitment to our school district and our children. These are difficult times but they are not times for us to be frightened. These are times for us to continue to pull together for the strength of our school district and the strength of our community.