School officials need to use innovative ideas

The local superintendents are understandably concerned about the public school system. While there is no question more funding will temporarily ease this concern, it seems reasonable to engage the community with innovative long-term solutions to cut costs simultaneously.

One modification could be four 9-hour days, which would reduce transportation and food costs by 20 percent, as well as reducing incidental hourly staff and building costs. Another option is to teach remotely via the internet one day a week (now used by most colleges), again reducing costs while simultaneously building necessary technology skills of teachers and children alike. Return to parents some of the responsibility of feeding their own children.

School system sick leave and substitute teachers should be aligned to that of private businesses: Sick leave should be five days per year and not carried over. Employees who use none of their sick leave that year get 50 percent of that pay as a bonus. Sick for more than a day requires a physicians’ note. Use paid administrators as first-line substitutes call in sick and your manager has to do your work (just like businesses). Inpatient illness is unlimited except for elective surgery, which is done during breaks/summers.

The school systems need to stand up for the children politically. This means aligning northern Michigan schools on a ballot initiative that prohibits the state from stratifying any funding based upon the child’s location in the state. Treat all children equally and base state funding on the number of children enrolled in the district (public or private) rather than on a special “head count” day. Penalizing northern Michigan children for southeast Michigan children is wrong-headed.

The community is best served with a comprehensive plan for improving our schools let’s support our superintendents in developing and executing such.

Allan Frank, MD, MS