Kingsley Area Schools is considering outsourcing jobs to balance it's budget woes and Monday night administrators began reviewing bids.
A decrease in state funding and a drop in student enrollment has left Kingsley Schools with a $585,000 dollar deficit for next year. To fill the hole, school board officials are considering eliminating bus drivers, custodians and food service employees.
It's a plan that is stirring up a lot of emotion. The school board's meeting was packed Monday night with dozens of employees and community members who are against privatization.
One Kingsley community member addressed the school board at the meeting and said, "You know your employees, they are members of the community, your members are here tonight and they want you to make the right decision, the right decision is not to end their career!"
Dave Krish has been a Kingsley Bus Driver for more than 10 years and says, "Its probably the only job I've ever had in my life I look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work. We got 156 hours between the 13 drivers, accident free mind you, and we take pride in picking up and delivering these kids safely. We want our jobs saved!"
It's a request that Kingsley Superintendent Keith Smith definitely sympathizes with, but unfortunately he says the district has nowhere else to trim costs. Smith explains, "Last year we went for a 1.2 million dollar budget reduction, we laid off teachers, we cut back on supplies. My heart goes out to the families and every employee that could possibly be affected, but unfortunately it would be irresponsible if we don't consider all the options."
The options that the Kingsley School Board have been presented with, were reviewed tonight.
The district has received six bids for outsourcing custodial services, ranging from $247,000 to $303,000. Smith says they could save nearly $100,000.
As for transportation, school board members are looking at four bids. The strongest proposal came from Traverse City Area Public Schools for $316,000 dollars. Under this proposal, Kingsley's bus drivers would work for TCAPS, and it would save the district another $100,000.
Smith says, "It would be really nice to be able to have the option for all of our employees could have a job, and stay in retirement system. They'd keep seniority too, so it's nice TCAPS is a strong proposal. "
There have been no bids for food services at this point, the deadline for those bids is July 5th.
7&4 News is told that a final decision on these proposals will be made at the board's July 9th meeting.