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Wayland Schools hanging in there during Covid crisis

Assistant Supt. Pat Velie

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Patricia Velie told members of the Wayland Board of Education Monday night there will be financial challenges ahead, but thus far the local district has fared well.

Despite the revenue challenges prompted by the Covid-19 viral pandemic, Wayland Union schools are not flourishing, but “they ain’t broke.”

However, Velie cautioned that Wayland, like virtually all public schools, has experienced a decline in enrollment, which she said, “is squarely attributed to Covid.”

The assistant superintendent said Wayland is down the equivalent of almost 182 pupils from a year ago, when the pandemic started. That translates into a lot less money in state aid, which is based on a per-pupil formula.

Because of Covid, Velie commented, “Some students are just not going to come back to us.”

Enrollment projections for Wayland next fall are for just over 3,014 students district wide, but Velie prefers to budget conservatively, so she estimates the number to be 2,997. She also noted birth records in Allegan County from five years go have shown a 4% drop, which means fewer kindergarten enrollments.

However, Velie is taking an educated guess that state aid will increase by $164 per pupil, from $8,111 to $8,275.

Regardless, the assistant superintendent urged the board to approve a proposal to refinance debt caused by passage of the recent bond. She noted as much as $300,000 could be saved, and maintained, “We can show the public we are making headway in paying down our debt.”

The board later in the meeting took her up on her recommendation.

In other business at the work session, the board:

  • Learned from Superintendent Dr. Christina Hinds that the transition from full-time in-person instruction to the part-time hybrid plan went as smoothly as could be expected. Because of high Covid case numbers, half of the students attended high school Thursday and the other half Friday.
  • Listened to a presentation on strategic planning from Jack Dempsey of Potterville, a representative from the Michigan Association of School Board. They went through material on vision, challenges and assets and later this year will have a retreat.
  • Received a recommendation from Velie to continue its contract for mowing with Promo Lawn Care for at least one more year at 3 percent more than last year’s bid of $9,490.69.
  • Received a recommendation from Velie to award the lowest bid, from Floor Care Concepts at less than $200,000 to replace the gymnasium flooring, which has been in existence since it was opened in 1974..

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