Portage Public Schools pass 'worst-case scenario' budget cutting over 100 jobs

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Portage Public Schools leaders pulled an online social studies lesson about slavery, and issued an apology Thursday, April 30, 2020, regarding the insensitivity of the content. (WWMT/File)

Portage Public Schools passed a preliminary budget cutting approximately $8 million from the district and cutting over 100 jobs.

The Portage Public Schools Board of Education passed the budget with a 6-2 vote June 29, 2020, after 40 minutes of comments from the public and board members.

“This is one of the most difficult budget situations I’ve ever seen,” Portage Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bielang said at the start of the meeting.

Bielang said the budget that they created was a “worst-case scenario” budget and they are hoping that it won’t come to pass.

When the board put the budget together they still had not received the final numbers from Michigan, but were required by law to pass the budget before July 1.

The passed budget calls for:

  • Elimination of funding for middle school athletics.
  • Elimination of book purchasing for the media centers.
  • Reduction in curriculum work expenses
  • Reduction in new curriculum purchase.
  • Changes to some early childhood programming
  • Reduction in the number of paraprofessionals
  • Reduction in planned capital outlay
  • Reduction of approximately 7% in teacher staffing costs with specifics pending discussions with the Portage Education Association.
  • 36 teachers on a preliminary layoff list. Contract changes could reduce the numbers.
  • 60 paraprofessionals could be cut from the 2020/2021 school year or a 50% reduction.
  • 4 support staff eliminated from the administration support group and a hold on filling another currently open position.
  • 1 custodial or maintenance group worker through attrition, and not replacing, as well pulling another posted position

School budgets: