Tough decisions

Take a look around and you’re sure to see someone who has been hit hard by the economic recession that continues to hammer our state.
Jun 4, 2013


Whether it’s a small shop in downtown Grand Haven or a sprawling corporation located in an industrial park, very few businesses have gone unscathed by the tough times.

Our schools are feeling the pinch as well.

Recently, Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said it’s to the point that it’s becoming increasingly distressing to determine where the next cuts will come from. That statement came in the wake of the announcement that the school district must cut $3 million to fit into budget constraints.

Schools saw drastic reductions in the amount of dollars per pupil they receive heading into the 2011-12 school year. That number dropped from $7,704 down to $7,234 per student, a decrease of nearly $500.

For a small school district, that may not add up to much — but with a district like Grand Haven, which serves several thousand children, the decrease in funding is crushing.

But it’s not like the current per-pupil funding has dropped back down to the level of the Reagan administration. In fact, that level of funding remains above what it was back in 2004-05, when schools received $7,131 per student.

Konarska said staffing, rather than programs, will be hardest hit. The Grand Haven district will cut $1.84 million in staff costs and  $160,000 in non-staffing efficiencies, while at the same time maintaining all current programs.

While many of those programs help make Grand Haven schools such a special place, we would encourage our school leaders to take a careful look at each one.

We must weigh our priorities and differentiate between needs and wants.

It’s not easy. But guess what? Countless families are dealing with these same issues every day. Their cable, phone, electric and gas bills have all steadily climbed while the money coming in has stayed the same or gone down. What do they cut? Their premium channels? Their cellphone data plan? Travel soccer?

It’s a tough time to be an educator. Layoffs are looming. Morale is down. Like all of us, educators are being asked to do more with less.

We cross our fingers and hope that better times are coming soon — but until then, we’re stuck making difficult decisions.

We urge those charged with making those decisions for our schools to make sure their choices are the best for all involved.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Right, so lets tax people to put a $1 million bike path in Ferrysburg!


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