MICHIGAN CITY | Initial steps have been taken to decide how to close a budget deficit next year in the Michigan City Area Schools without a mass layoff of teachers.
Some Michigan City Area Schools officials are speculating an amount of the corporation's $91 million in debt will be refinanced to acquire funds to help keep as many teachers as possible.
The School Board has made no decisions on where to cut, but member Beryle Burgwald did asked for figures last week to see how much a redistricting of the elementary schools could save the district to minimize any teacher layoffs.
Burgwald said Pine and Lake Hills elementaries were overbuilt and could take students from other grade schools through redistricting.
He said redistricting the middle schools recently saved about $700,000.
"I think the same could be done for the grade schools," Burgwald said.
Former Coolspring Township Trustee Dennis Metheny said he was told after the meeting the board was positioning itself to refinance.
School Board President Don Delaney said the measure was a procedural move to help fund next year's budget and had nothing to do with refinancing -- which he said will not happen.
About 100 teaching positions, or 20 percent of the corporation's teacher workforce, will likely have to be let go, Delaney said.
He said the administration, though, is looking for any fat left in the already-scaled-back budget to reduce the anticipated lay offs.
Layoffs could be forced after voters turned down a request to raise property taxes Nov. 5 to help close a $4 million budget deficit next year.
Delaney said members of the opposition might be behind the speculation about refinancing to avoid guilt about the many anticipated teacher layoffs.
"They don't want to be associated with what's going to happen," Delaney said.
Delaney said any teachers pink slipped have to be notified in February and will continue to work until the end of the school year. Burgwald said cuts have to be made before Jan. 1.