Local schools, governments planning steep budget cuts

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing organizations to find ways to save money.

Western Michigan University is already planning painful budget cuts to deal with an expected $85 million shortfall. Other local schools and governments are facing similarly dire financial decisions as a result of the coronavirus.

Kalamazoo County

The Kalamazoo County Commission has agreed to trim $1.1 million from its budget to cope with the lack of revenue over the past three months, according to an article on MLive.

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Those cuts come from across departments including the county clerk’s office, which is preparing for two upcoming elections. The county has also instituted a hiring freeze.

County Commission Chair Julie Rogers said more bugdet cuts could be on the horizon if the state cuts revenue sharing money.

Public Schools

Both Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) and Portage Public Schools (PPS) are planning budget cuts.

PPS is predicting a budget deficit of more than $5 million, according to an article on MLive.

“They say budgets are living and breathing documents,” said PPS Superintendent Mark Bielang. “I hate to say it but this particular one is gasping for air even before we bring it to you.”

KPS may face similar shortfalls. The district plans to present its preliminary budget plan to the public on June 18, according to MLive.

Both districts will suffer due to a predicted $1.2 billion deficit in the state’s school aid fund. Both districts are also calling on elected officials to provide emergency education funding for the state.

Community College

Kalamazoo Valley Community College is also dealing with decreasing finances.

The school’s board of trustees approved a 2020-2021 budget on Tuesday that includes about $2.8 million in cost savings over last year’s budget, according to MLive.

Those cost savings come from a decrease in part-time employee hours, cancelled capital improvement projects, and a partial hiring freeze.

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