Program and Personnel Cut from Northern Michigan School

A Northern Michigan school looking to cut several programs and possibly personnel.

The superintendent says it’s been a hot debate for weeks and it all boiled down to tonight’s meeting.

Farwell Schools is trying to reduce or remove programs and personnel to help balance their budget. It was a full house at the meeting tonight and emotions ran high as parents, students and faculty shared their opinions. “We are at a point where any reduction means that it impacts kids and we’re trying to minimize that,” says Carl Seiter, Farwell superintendent.

Farwell Schools is facing a $500,000 deficit which is unacceptable for a school that is also losing students. “Farwell is in that situation where we’ve been deficit spending and we have to stop in order to balance the budget and maintain fiscal stability,” says Seiter.

The superintendent gave the school board until tonight to make cuts and several programs and personnel were up for discussion. “Talking about cutting the athletic director, which affects kids K-12 and all sports programs, talking about cutting the Middle School assistant principal and my daughter is a Middle School student, so that way both of my children would be affected,” says Wendy Odykirk, parent. 

Several parents spoke up about programs on the chopping block, and what they mean to their kids. In the end, the Elementary Chinese Immersion Program was one program cut, along with five immersion teachers. “What do we have left here to offer us, plus you feel kind of slighted, you’re a little angry by it. When you’re told on thing and then another thing happens. Maybe we’ll leave, maybe we’ll go down the road to Clare, I don’t know, I don’t know yet,” says Curt Thormeir, parent.

The board also cut the High School Choice Room which gave teachers a place to send misbehaving students. It will save the school $20,000. “These reductions will make it possible for us to move forward in a positive manner,” says Seiter.

The board also decided to layoff one high school teacher and reduce the hours of just one secretary. The athletic director and assistant principal will stay. More programs are still up in the air for discussion if more funding needs to be cut.