Dear Clarkston Community Schools Staff & Families,
At last week's Board of Education meeting, our Executive Director of Business Services, Mary Beth Rogers, presented the potential financial implications of an expected decline in state funding on our school district due to the COVID-19 crisis. In the interest of being up front with you about these projections, I want you to know that this decline in funding could have the following impacts on our district:
- A potential proration of between $650-700 per pupil for the 2019-2020 school year, which would create a retroactive budget gap of up to $5.6 million.
- A potential decrease of $650-700 per pupil in 2020-2021, resulting in another $5.6 million budget gap, for a total of $11.2 million over two years.
It was no surprise to me that the immediate conversation around the Board table was focused on preserving our programs and continuing to serve our students, staff, and families. This is what we do in Clarkston.
It's my intention today to bring this to your awareness early, so that you understand the scope of the financial situation we are entering.
Even before receiving this news, our administration was actively examining areas where we can trim with as little possible impact to our students. Clarkston Community Schools is a fiscally healthy organization, and we are well-prepared to weather a period of belt-tightening.
We will be sharing more with you in the coming weeks about our budgets and plans, but in the meantime, we ask you to consider joining our Clarkston Champions education advocacy group. This is an opportunity for our collective voices to be heard when it comes to the decisions that affect our students and schools.
Continuity of Learning: Fall 2020
The second reason I am writing to you today is to provide some context for our decision-making related to returning to school in the fall. It is likely that we will not be returning to a pre-COVID "normal" for some time, and social distancing is here for the foreseeable future. Clarkston Community Schools has established a steering committee to develop a safe, comprehensive, and flexible plan for possible learning scenarios, and over the summer, we will form break-out task force groups to further explore all facets of these scenarios. While the current unknowns prevent us from suggesting specifically what the school experience will be like in August, we are focusing on three major areas in our planning:
- Well-Being: This focuses on social emotional learning, being "human-informed," and prioritizing wellness for students, staff and families.
- Academic: We will continue to provide a strong platform of foundational and academic skills along with student-focused learning opportunities.
- Community: Our district operates in strong partnership with our community and will protect the health and safety of those who live here.
It goes without saying that our decisions will also be guided by the current state and federal health recommendations for schools. We have begun to develop three different "Learning Zones of Operations" that offer flexible pathways for meaningful continuity of instruction. These include a traditional model with full days on campus (including modifications for safe social distancing); a blended model with both on-campus and at-home instruction; and a distance learning model. Our Learning Zones are intended to be fluid in order to respond to possible intermittent closures and accommodate the needs of individual families. Should we be faced with returning to a fully asynchronous (distance learning) model of instruction, it will look vastly different from the current Virtual At-Home Learning model we employed this spring. Our current program was a testament to the creativity and collaboration of our educators, and while it served the purpose it needed to serve during this crisis, it is not sustainable for the long-term.
Please know that we recognize the uncertainty you may be feeling as you make plans for next year, and we are doing our best to address the concerns of our families as we develop our multi-tiered plans.
As an educational community, we continue to navigate uncharted waters. Thank you for your support and confidence as we move forward together in these challenging times.
Superintendent of Schools
About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.
Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/news.
Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.