In February Governor Snyder presented his K-12 budget proposal for next year to the public. West Ottawa Public Schools, like districts all over the state, was excited to hear about a potential increase in funding. Unfortunately, the actual numbers indicated that West Ottawa, like most other districts in Michigan, will receive less per pupil funding on top of the $470 per pupil loss for this school year. For West Ottawa, this has resulted in a shortfall of $4 million dollars for this school year and an estimated $7 million for next school year.
West Ottawa has handled the loss of funding better than most districts in the state. Being new I want to acknowledge what a great job the board, administration and staff have done to create efficiencies across the district while preserving our quality instructional programs. These efficiencies include expanding alternative revenue sources, working with employee groups to achieve contract efficiencies, maximizing the use of one time federal funds, and reducing our financial reserves. If further consideration is not given to legitimately improve K-12 funding for the next school year, we are at the point where very successful instructional programs at West Ottawa will be impacted.
We as a West Ottawa family are exploring more options to reduce our structural deficit created by the loss of funding at the state level. I was pleasantly surprised upon my arrival last July to find that West Ottawa had been able to avoid the unfortunate reductions that have occurred in other districts, but if the current proposed budget stands, operating without program reductions will be impossible. If you are concerned about continuing our current level of funding and need to adequately fund K-12 education in this state, I would encourage you to share your thoughts with your legislator.
I would also like to take this opportunity to share that as a leadership team we are focusing on becoming a school district that prepares our students to be College, Career and Life Ready. In order to make this happen, we are strategically working on the following three areas:
1. Improve learning for all students
2. Correct/address our structural deficit
3. Communicate our story
As I have mentioned several times, we offer great things for our students, but few seem to know about them and that is on us. Please tune in to WHTC 1450AM Monday mornings, at 8:40 for “Taking Pride in West Ottawa Public Schools” where we share all of the great things we offer the students of WOPS.
Thomas K. Martin
Superintendent of Schools
West Ottawa Public Schools