March 13 2013 12:00 AM

Lansing School District sees low student count, will study possible transportation savings

Friday, Oct. 5 — Earlier this week the Lansing School District, along with every other school in the state, had its annual student count day. The preliminary count wasn’t good, as the district tallied 400 less students from last year. 

Myra Ford, president of the Lansing Board of Education, said there would be an evaluation by the administration to see which grades are losing kids. Those grade levels may see teacher layoffs due to budget constraints.

“We’ll be looking at maybe leveling classes in those grades and possibly we may have to lay some people off because we can’t afford it when we’re not getting the state aid for those kids,” she said. “We don’t want to put ourselves any further in the hole.”

The district receives $7,314 per student from the state. If the preliminary numbers hold true, the district could lose nearly $3 million in state funding.

Ford said the loss of students has been typical in the past. She said schools of choice and families leaving the area to find work factor into the smaller count.

Sam Sinicropi, the district's assistant superintendent of operations, said the final student count numbers won’t be available for about a month, so the number could improve.

“We have 10 days to get the kids who aren’t excused absences back and we have 30 days for kids who are excused absences to have them back,” he said. “We don’t know officially for a month.”

The loss of state aid could have serious implications for the district’s budget. When the district finalized its budget this year, it was determined that about $500,000 would be available in savings next June. Sinicropi said the district’s final audit is on Nov. 15 and the projections are looking better than expected.

“Our audit’s going to show us a lot better than $500,000,” he said.

In other news, the school board voted unanimously to join the Ingham Intermediate School District Transportation Consortium, which could lead to the district’s outsourcing of transportation services.

By joining the consortium, the district can undergo a transportation cost analysis to see which would be cheaper — outsourced transportation through the consortium or to continue providing its own services.

LSD is the ninth district to join the consortium. East Lansing recently joined as well.

One of the main differences would mean the consortium handling the transportation bidding rather than the district. Dean Transportation is the contract holder for the consortium. The deadline to decide on whether to outsource transportation is Feb. 1, Sinicropi said. The district would only outsource services if there would be cost savings, he said.

“If they do this analysis and it’s not going to save us any money, we’re not going to do it,” he said. “That’s why we do it — it has nothing to do with the level of service we have now. We have to look at” the budget.