Michigan Schools from Ann Arbor to DeWitt are looking for ways to stretch their budgets, meet national accountability standards, and still provide children with practical skills for the futures. The ways different districts of Michigan Schools are approaching this dilemma are as varied as the schools themselves. From sharing classroom space to outsourcing work, the job of running a public school system the size of Michigan Schools is changing with the times.
FREE TECHNOLOGY FOR MICHIGAN SCHOOLS
Every year each district in the Michigan Schools must dip into their operational budget to pay licensing fees for district computers to use the Microsoft Office® applications. Last year that cost each Michigan Schools’ district about $24,000; a price tag that is expected to double for the upcoming school year. DeWitt Public Schools has found a way around that. Microsoft’s http://OpenOffice.org Project allows a district to download the entire software for free. All Michigan Schools can take advantage of this cost savings and install the application on all computers, as well as in the students’ homes.
DeWitt Schools Superintendent Tina Templin says that, “Our students will be expected to be versatile in a variety of technology tools upon their graduation, not just the one application promoted in the states.” Open Office is considered the global standard. All Michigan Schools are likely to be interested in cost saving software that prepares students for success.
OUTSOURCING TRANSPORTATION AT MICHIGAN SCHOOLS
As Michigan Schools look for ways to eliminate expenses, it’s no huge surprise that transportation costs are high on the list. Operations Director of Grand Ledge Public Schools, Matt Losch, reports that his district spends an average of $420 yearly for each student. That means over $2 million for a single district of the Michigan Schools. With rising fuel costs, Michigan Schools are actively seeking solutions.
Some of the answer include: replacing older buses with more fuel efficient models, outsourcing dispatch operations, replacing employed mechanics with a private contractor, and purchasing in larger quantities. The outsourcing alone is expected to save up to $100,000 by eliminating salaries and benefits.
Some of Michigan Schools’ Grand Ledge Board Members expressed their concerns about contractor’s bids, and the need to lay off employees. Representatives of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) attended several board meetings on the topic and also expressed concerns. Losch has said that any mechanic laid off will have a chance to interview with the selected contractor.
Schools around the nation are feeling pressure to invest the time and money needed to meet No Child Left Behind requirements for reaching higher standards and reducing class sizes. Michigan Schools endeavor to balance rising costs, greater technological requirements, and the ever-present issues of racial disparity. While cost effective methods like those listed are crucial for Michigan Schools, officials realize that they are just one part of the big picture.
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