Kingsley schools debate privatization

A local school district is considering privatizing services to help fill a half million dollar budget deficit, and more than 20 jobs could be on the chopping block.

You've heard it before, a decrease in state funding and a drop in student enrollment is driving some major budget decisions. This time it's Kingsley Area Schools.

The district is trying to figure out how to balance a $519.000 budget shortfall with as little student impact as possible.

One possibility is outsourcing bus drivers, janitors, and food service employees.

Cheryl Kimbrew, a Kingsley bus driver says, "It broke my heart because we've been here for so long. I've got 24 years here and we are a close knit family. We love the kids."

Right now the school board is considering bids to see just how much of a cost savings privatizing would be.

The school board's vice president says these are cuts that noone wants to make, but to balance the budget they have to make some tough decisions.

Michelle Quigley-Gomez, Kingsley School Board Vice President says, "We are a small community, we know the people it's impacting. It's not what we want to do but not considering it wouldn't be fiscally responsible."

Quigley-Gomez adds that the support staff is some of the highest paid, if not the highest paid, in the area.

Kingsley bus drivers make $20.64 an hour, while TCAPS bus drivers only make up to $14.26. The custodians also make several dollars an hour more than many other schools according to the administration.

The school district will start looking at bid proposals on Monday. The budget must be finalized by July 1st.