Exodus of migrant workers leads to teacher layoffs

SPART, Mich.(WZZM) -- Faced with a $2 million deficit, declining enrollment and increased expenses, the Sparta School Board is laying off teachers and reassigning staff.

That has some parents upset and worried.

"We are concerned about the cuts and changes at the school, not just the teachers we lost to layoff, but all the changes in the classroom," explains parent Jody Hyde.

To cut costs the district is laying off 16 teachers, transferring others and reassigning some administrative and support staff.

"It's an extremely difficult choice," says Sparta Board Of Education President Warren Hill. "Over the last few years we have tried to keep our reductions as far away from the classroom as possible. This year we have a $2.3 million deficit and we could no longer afford to keep it away from the classroom."

The current Sparta Schools superintendent is retiring in a few weeks, but the board can't wait until a new leader is hired to make financial decisions.

The must have a balanced 2013-2014 budget by June 30.

"Declining enrollment, declining revenue and increased expenses brought us to the point where we didn't have a choice," says Hill.

Sparta lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in per pupil funding last year because enrollment dropped 116 students. Half were children of migrant workers who didn't stay in west Michigan last fall because there was a poor harvest and no work. If there is a good crop this autumn and migrant families return, enrollment and revenue could increase in Sparta schools.


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