Education Budget Signed; Lawmakers Still Don't Know How to Fund Part of it

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Signed by the Governor, sealed and delivered Monday -- schools finally know just how deep the state funding cuts will be.

"$218 cut per pupil is horrible, $165 per pupil cut is very bad," said Donald Sovey, the associate Superintendent for Business at Charlotte Public Schools.

Schools will get $53 more per student than many originally thought, but the legislature hasn't decided how to fund that increase yet, which worries Grand Ledge Superintendent Steve Matthews.

"We anticipate they may come back to us in late winter early spring and ask for another cut," Matthews said.

As things stand now -- even at $165 per student -- the district will have to cut $300,000 it wasn't planning for.

"What that means is we have to make cuts where we can, perhaps we won't offer courses that have low enrollment or we might combine classes," Matthews said. "What it really means is we have to dip into our fund balance."

Some say they think there should be a complete overhaul of the education system in this state to avoid this same cycle of cuts and losses from affecting the classroom.

"This is another year of trying to get the expenditures to reach the funding levels," Sovey said.

It's a vicious cycle without an end Sovey said, unless the system that funds public education in this state is changed.

"Revenue funding sources need to be examined because they aren't working because they are completely dependent on sales tax," he said. "Many districts are talking about how we can achieve equity between districts also."

In the future, Sovey said, he'd like to see lawmakers and school districts sit down and draw up a new plan.

"So that a year from now, we're not revisiting this same scenario," Sovey said.

Lawmakers are considering filling the gap created by this $53 dollar per pupil increase, with Stimulus dollars. But, that comes at price considering Stimulus dollars have rules attached - i.e. if you use it to fill gaps instead of improving schools -- the state could lose out in $5 billion in federal education grants.


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