LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No need to privatize at SLPS

Jun 13, 2011


However, Spring Lake’s student enrollment is stable and the general fund balance is currently 15.09 percent of revenue. Maintenance costs have gone down over the past 16 years. New cost-saving measures have been implemented this year. Our bargaining unit is offering concessions. It is not necessary for Spring Lake to privatize custodial services at this time.

Superintendent Dennis Furton’s greeting on the district’s website states: “The common thread that unifies all of our services and programs is the commitment to assist every student to achieve success. The strength of this district lies in a resourceful and responsive staff that works in partnerships with students, parents, and community organizations to meet the needs of all SLPS children.” We work as a team in the best interest of our children. The administration seems to have lost its purpose — that we’re all here for the kids.

In the June 7 Grand Haven Tribune, the superintendent said that the decision to privatize is “about cost and only cost,” and that “privatizing custodial services isn’t about whether the current employees are dedicated, or the quality of their work.” Apparently, the superintendent is only concerned about the bottom line and doesn’t care about the quality of the learning environment the district provides for its students or the health and safety of our students. Do you share that point of view?

The superintendent has said that he is concerned with not wanting to be the superintendent who used the fund balance. He should be more concerned about being the superintendent who runs the district and its facilities down. We are not a for-profit business as the district is now being run.

Privatizing turns your tax dollars into a profit for a private company. Where do you see any benefit for the community there? Not only will those tax dollars leave our community, but our local economy will be negatively impacted.

Please, if you are concerned about the potential decline in our school district, come to the school board meeting on Wednesday to express your concerns and help us keep the high standards that Spring Lake Public Schools is accustomed to. If you can’t make it to the school board meeting, please call the school board members to express your concerns.

— Debra Scholz, Spring Lake Educational Support Personnel Association president



The above opinion is obviously slanted by the author's position as President of the support personnel association. I am a mere taxpayer and parent, but I believe that a majority of the "folks" want the board to take a fiscally responsible position in these difficult economic times. $314K is a very significant savings and will likely protect teacher jobs.
There is no reason to think the superintendant can't be concerned about both the bottom line and the quality of the learning environment. Tax dollars spent on a private firm won't leave the community any more than current salaries do. Our local economy will be positively impacted by the $314K saved.
Privatizing is a difficult decision for our school board. It will have a negative impact on current job holders, but to imply that the board and superintendant don't care about the kids is unfair and untrue.


Hear are a few points to our village idiot:
We have 2 principles for the middle school/intermediate, that's 1 principle for 2 grades.
Spring Lake shares postions with our Food Service with Allen Dale, our Financial director with Grand Haven, and our Maintenance supervisor with Grand Haven. Spring Lake is a small enough district to share our Superintendent with another school...like Allen Dale. This could save the disrict enough money without putting anyone out of job!
The custodial staff could easily go to Reliant and apply for jobs to get back into the Spring Lake schools, however, most of us have mortgages and Reliant starts at minimum wage, with no benefits.
Good luck fellow custodians....we're going to need it! It saddens me the most to not be with the "family" I grew to love at Spring Lake teachers, students and staff... I will miss you.
Mary Conran


As someone who grew up in Spring Lake, but now teaches in another school district, I can tell you first hand that privatizing custodial staff is NOT a wise choice on the part of the superintendent. The overall cleanliness of the buildings in my school district is appalling. Our custodial staff used to be a part of our school system and cared about the students within the buildings. That has all disappeared with the private company that has come in to "clean". Maybe Mr. Furton should take the time to check in with other schools that have made this decision and get feedback from administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Good luck Spring Lake!


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