Sometimes you just can't sugarcoat things.
We feel that way after this week's Alpena Public School's board of education meeting, where the administration and board reviewed its current budget and discussed budgets for the new year.
Like many government entities today, budget prognostication is not an easy process. And, like many government entities today, expenditures run close to, if not exceed, projected revenues. What money that bodies have been able to save, quickly faces depletion in such economic times.
So it is in Alpena.
"We're trying to manage (the budget) in a controlled fashion," Superintendent Brent Holcomb told the board Monday.
And, here's where the sugarcoating comes in, Assistant Superintendent for Operations Diane Block told the board that 86 percent of the budget goes toward labor costs in the district. As the administration and board tries to save a nickel here, a dime there, in cost savings to balance the budget, imagine how effective that really can be when faced with so much of the budget being in fixed labor costs that can't really be changed or altered that much.
"There's a danger sign right there," she said. "We put a squeeze on everything but labor. We're at the point where we really can't squeeze it anymore. The amount we spend on payroll and mandatory benefits is dysfunctional."
We're not advocating, nor suggesting, fewer teachers and staff in our schools.
We only are pointing out the troubling times schools, like APS, are facing and all of us need to understand we, in Michigan, are standing at a crossroads. Sooner, rather than later, we are going to choose a path to travel, and we need to understand that whatever direction we turn, each path has consequences that ultimately, will impact each of us.