BOE discusses extreme budget cuts- teachers layoffs included

Julia Roeder '25, Page Editor

Grosse Pointe School’s Board members and administration at the May 22 school board meeting. (Julia Roeder ’25)

On May 22, 2023, the GPPSS Grosse Pointe Public School System’s School Board discussed major cuts to the district’s funding, as a result of declining enrollment. Within the district, possible cuts for the 2023-2024 school year include: personnel cuts, cuts to teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, custodians, hall monitors, counselors and other positions; along with other educational resources, such as closing middle school swimming pools, and funding for musical instruments.

The School Board meeting went into early hours of the morning—, past 3 a.m. With over 90 public comments, many students, teachers, parents and community members came to voice their concerns, such as Ben Henri, Grosse Pointe North’s Choir Director.

‘‘I do not envy (the board members’)your position, (Board members). bBut please reconsider the extremity of these cuts.,” Henri said. “ We know cuts are necessary, no one is arguing that point, but they needn’t be this drastic,’’ Henri said at the recent board meeting.‘‘Too many students will be negatively impacted.’’

These cuts were discussed during the May 16 meeting of the School Board’s Finance and Faculty Committee. Trustees Sean Cotton and Lisa Pappas presented a list of alternate cuts to those proposed by the district administration. At the recent board meeting on May 22, the two proposals were discussed and debated among board and community members alike. The proposals can be found on the district’s website.

‘‘Running a school district is serious business, and we all take this work seriously,” board member David Brumbaugh said at the May 22 Board Meeting. “To be clear, this is not ‘let’s ride it and hope for the best:’ this involves making some painful cuts to create the space for a strategic review of district operations. I believe that all seven (board members) recognize that the district is in a difficult financial position. We need to do serious work to maintain the standard of excellence that is the hallmark of a GPPSS education.’’

The Administration originally suggested a minimum of $3 million in cuts for the 2023-2024 school year budget.. However, the most recent proposals cut nearly $5 million. Some Board members questioned why these cuts were so strict, including Trustee Colleen Worden.

‘‘I guess that one of the reasons why I think Trustee Brambaugh’s proposal is important is because I don’t see how three or four trustees got together to decide where to put an ax in the budget,’’ Worden said at the May 22 board meeting . ‘‘It should be up to people that are experts in education, not people that are volunteers who ran for office. I don’t think it should be a political decision.’’

Near the end of the meeting, Trustee Cotton and Trustee Brambaugh agreed to meet with Superintendent Jon Dean to discuss a compromise between the majority and minority on the School Board. Dean urged for a compromise to reach the deadline set by the State of Michigan for the end of June to turn in a final budget. The final budget proposal must be completed by the next Regular Session meeting on June 12 for the Board to formally vote.

‘‘I think we would be in a healthier place if there was some version that landed this,” Dean said. “No one will be happy—I understand that—but somewhere in the middle. ‘I would hope that with the seven board members there is an interest in coming up with something in the middle.’’