Aid To Mid-Michigan Schools Could Drop

Like many mid-Michigan school systems, the St. Johns Public School District planned on getting an additional $210 dollars from the state this year for every student it teaches.

"With our enrollment, that means an additional $700,000," St. Johns Superintendent Bob Kudwa explained.

The district built its budget on that extra cash, but sales tax revenue shortfalls could take part of that extra money away perhaps all but $10 per student of it.

"Which is absolutely, will devastate our budget at this time," Kudwa said.

The superintendent says it's practically impossible to cut staff or programs in the middle of the schoolyear, but all options will be on the table if a severe aid cut materializes.

That potential cut comes as the St. Johns district is trying to negotiate a contract with teachers who've been working for a year and a half without one.

"We have made some nice progress, but this cut is going to set us back," Kudwa said.

In Grand Ledge, revenue shortfalls could cause similar problems for the district.

"It's a lot of money," district Chief Financial Officer Tom Goodwin said. "It's roughly one percent of our total revenue and that's just on the surface."

Goodwin says he's not expecting to lose most of the per-pupil funding increase, but perhaps as much as $75 of it.

Lansing School District Chief Financial Officer Scott Powers says the district planned on getting the extra money like most other districts. But he says Lansing schools will wait to hear directly from the state as to whether they'll be getting less than they expected.

Goodwin, the Grand Ledge finance chief, says he's most worried about funding in future years.

"What started out as a problem now is becoming a habit," Goodwin said.

His frustrations are echoed back in St. Johns.

"It becomes very difficult to work in an environment and plan for the future when we can have such drastic cuts or pro-rations that come from the state during this time of the year," Kudwa said.

It's so difficult, the St. Johns superintendent says, that it may be time to find a new way to fund Michigan schools.