Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 4, 2014

Principal among cuts at Suttons Bay Schools

TRAVERSE CITY — The Suttons Bay Public Schools Board of Education ordered their superintendent to slash his budget by $400,000 in an attempt to keep the district afloat.

The cuts are to include eliminating the elementary school principal position, currently held by Dannielle McGuire.

The board's decision came at a Jan. 30 meeting and is intended to save the district from sliding into deficit after enrollment in Suttons Bay's online school fell below projected numbers. The schools receive per-pupil state funding, and Superintendent Mike Murray said an unexpected decline in online enrollment — it fell from 542 to 300 — hit the school hard.

“Because our revenues are driven by number of students in the seats, we don’t have any other option,” said Bob Potvin, school board vice president.

Murray was directed to present his cost reduction plan to the school board in March.

Eliminating the principal's job is expected to save the district $40,000 this school year and $80,000 in the next full year. High school Principal Raphael Rittenhouse will serve as principal for students in all grades.

Murray also plans to eliminate a French language teacher, one-third of a physical education teacher's position, and a combined fifth/sixth grade teacher is expected to retire early.

Murray said it's possible two other teachers also will retire early, although no decisions have been finalized. McGuire's last day is slated to be March 3.

The French students will continue their studies online, and students in affected fifth/sixth grade class will consolidate from three classes into two, with around 30 students per class, Murray said.

Murray expects the remaining staff to agree to salary cuts to reach the $400,000 target. Suttons Bay teachers met Tuesday night to discuss their options.

“I think each time schools keep downsizing, people should be concerned because it means that the full range of services we like to have for students, we’re not able to provide,” Murray said. “We know that our students are going to go up and compete against students with more funding.”

Murray said Rittenhouse also will be responsible for all teacher evaluations, as well as special education student evaluations, essentially doubling his workload.

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