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Education

Battle Creek Public Schools finally in the black

Downtown Battle Creek
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Battle Creek skyline

Battle Creek Public Schools has balanced its budget for the first time in ten years.

Superintendent Kim Carter says the district sold two under-capacity school buildings, outsourced bussing, and sold its buses.  

Selling the schools also meant the district could reduce some administrative and support staff who worked in those buildings.  Carter says they avoided direct cuts to classes and teaching staff.

She says the district must maintain enrollment so it doesn't get back into financial problems again.  It's hoped a $51 million dollar grant to the district from the Kellogg Foundation will help with that goal.

The grant money can't be used directly on operational expenses, says Carter, but "it does allow us to provide supplemental services like paraprofessionals in the classroom and the opportunity to purchase curriculum resources."

The district has placed teaching assistants in all kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms.

Carter says the district's new pre-K summer program appears to be boosting enrollment, as well as incoming student test scores.

Because of it, "This year, we have 50 more kindergartners than we anticipated," she says.

The budget improvement means Battle Creek was removed from the state treasury's Early Warning list of districts in financial distress.