Bay Co. Supt. Husfelt Recommends Schools to Close/Repurpose

By: Kristy Wolski Email
By: Kristy Wolski Email

There's about to be a shake-up in the Bay District School System, and it's likely to be very emotional for a lot of people.

Because of the drastic budget cuts the district is facing from the state, Superintendent Bill Husfelt announced today that his staff is devising a plan to rezone and repurpose most of the schools in the district.

That could mean some schools will close.

Just a few weeks into his new position as Bay District School Superintendent, it's already time for Bill Husfelt to make serious budget decisions. During a workshop Tuesday afternoon he suggested a number of schools be closed and repurposed. Some of them will result in direct savings; others will initially cost the district to make the changes. But in the end it will save more than $3.8 million.

Husfelt says he wishes he didn't have to visit this topic, but with a grim budget outlook it's unavoidable.

Educators know they're facing more than a $7 million budget shortfall this year. And the projected loss for the 2009-2010 school year is already $11.7 million.

"Most people know that 85-86 percent of our funding goes towards personnel so we are very worried about how this is going to affect staff and teachers and administrators and support people. This is something we can't take lightly and we have to balance our budget as required by law so we're going to have some hard decisions to make immediately," said Husfelt.

Outside of the immediate changes, repurposing will help with savings in 2009.

Husfelt's suggesting the district cancel their contract with community education partners and close emerald bay academy for a savings of $2.7 million.

Oakland Terrace Elementary will be repurposed to become an alternative middle school.

"There are a lot of things we have to go into and a lot of decisions we have to make that are tied directly to emotion, but we have to make a business approach and business decisions based on how we can survive these cuts coming from the state," said Husfelt.

Millville Elementary will be repurposed into Margaret K. Lewis School, saving the district $756,500.00. Two schools, Jinks and Everitt Middle Schools, will become K-8 schools. Springfield Elementary will be redesignated, though Husfelt says he has no idea yet what they will do with the school.

For many, these changes will be painful.

"To see the tears in people's eyes, I've already seen that this week, because they knew it was coming. They didn't know what exactly but that it was coming. So we're just going to pray a lot and count our blessings and go forth from here and hopefully make a better day for the entire District," said Ann Walsingham, Millville Elementary Principal.

Rezoning will also be a major project this year. Very few campuses will go untouched but school officials say the moves are necessary for the district to survive.

"I'm a little sad because we have a lot of wonderful things going on but we're going to have a positive attitude and some tough decisions have to be made at this time unfortunately due to the economy," said Harriet Taylor, Springfield Elementary Principal.

None of these changes are definite. The school board will have to approve Husfelt's recommendations during an actual board meeting. And the public will have the opportunity to speak for, or against, the changes during a public hearing.

In the meantime the board members are encouraging you to contact them with any suggestions you might have.

Their email addresses are available on the Bay District website.

Husfelt and the board members say a number of problems will likely come up as these events progress. Some of the issues they're already preparing for include transportation, school choice, and even school uniforms. But they say they're ready to face these challenges in these tough economic times.

There is one other change Husfelt is proposing, but it won't be a direct savings. He wants to move Shaw programs to Haney Technical Center. These programs receive workforce education dollars as an allocation.

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