Schools Have No Way To Plan

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

No matter how many books they dust off or lockers they clean out, school districts are telling us they just can't be fully ready for the upcoming school year because they have no idea how much money they're receiving from the state.

"We approved a budget back in May," says Charlotte Schools Associate Superintendent of Business Don Sovey.

But that budget assumed the state would give the same amount of student funding as last year-- no increase, no decrease.

To account for that, Sovey says Charlotte eliminated 30 positions and sliced where they could.

"At that point, things seemed stable," he says of the state.

Now, the $2 million they cut might not be enough, as they wait for the state to make a last-minute budget.

"We're starting to plan for a decrease," Sovey says. "Every expenditure that's about to take place, we're examining very closely."

Dave Martell of the Michigan School Business Officials thinks that's wise, from what he's hearing at the state level.

"It looks like, at a minimum, we're looking at a $150 per kid reduction," Martell says.

Calls we made to the Lansing and East Lansing school districts confirm they're in similar boats, as are so many others in mid-Michigan, they say; they've already had to cut so much, from staff to athletic coaching support and programs,

But with school starting in less than two weeks in Charlotte, and the state's budget still not figured out, the district tells wilx.com they're having to hold off on doing things they'd like to do before school starts.

"We're looking at every supply purchase, asking ourselves do we really need to make purchases, and equipment," Sovey says. "Every employee position as well."

"You can privatize custodians, privatize transportation, food services, reduce alternative programs, reduce other extra curriculars," says Martell.

All things schools don't want to do, but might have to because of the budget.

The state budget must be set by Sept. 30 to avoid a state shutdown that would happen at the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1. Schools' budgets were already set July 1.


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