Despite budget concerns, district anticipates good things ahead

REED CITY - Reed City Area Public Schools superintendent Steven Westhoff is pleased with some of what has taken place throughout the school district, and well pleased with the district’s continuing efforts to serve its students.

He is less than pleased with what he considers the “continuity of disservice” to public education that is coming out of Lansing, and he doesn’t anticipate things will change much in the year to come.

“When we discuss the level of education we are offering our students - I’m very happy,” he said.

“We have had a successful school year academically, and Coyote athletic teams  have made this community proud.

“But through it all, we struggled. We struggled dramatically with budget issues.

“We survived and were able to make it through the year ...barely. Now I see the folks in Lansing are talking about continuing possible cuts to public education funding.

“This is just a nightmare.”

To date, some 11 personnel were laid off in the RCAPS district over the 2012-13 school year.

“This is the worst part of my job,” said Westhoff. “These people weren’t laid off because they weren’t doing a good job. We were forced to cut back on staff because the funding simply didn’t support their employment.

“That is so very sad.”

In the area of enrollment, the RCAPS district stayed steady, and even increased a bit.

Noting that this is actually the second year in a row during which enrollment has increased, Westhoff hopes this will be a continuing trend.

“Obviously, this enrollment trend has much to do with the local economy,” he pointed out. “We’ll need to see how things work out in that area before we can even think about projecting for years to come.”

Looking ahead to the 2013-14 school year, Westhoff hesitates to think what is coming down the pike.

“With the budget difficulties we are going through, we tend to think more about what we may need to cut rather than how we can expect to grow or expand programs,” he said.

“Just recently we’ve heard there may be cuts of up to $150 per student. That would be disastrous.

“The situation is ridiculous.

“Once upon a time, we used to try to base our budget projections on educated guesses. Today, they aren’t even educated guesses. They are simply guesses.

“Absolutely shots in the dark.”

Still, Westhoff is convinced the RCAPS team will do everything it can do to continue giving students in he district the best education they can.

“That is what we are here for,” he said.