Public Outraged Over School Cuts

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- "It's time to stop playing games with each other."

Lansing resident Carole Bryde isn't alone in that sentiment. The reaction from folks here in mid-Michigan has been just about unanimous.

They're ticked off about what they see as a political game of chicken between state Democrats and Republicans -- one that could affect their children's futures.

"They're both at fault, folks," said William Mayes, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators. "This needs to be resolved. This is so bad for the children who are in our system right now."

The standoff between lawmakers peaked, of course, when the state went into a two-hour shutdown October 1. They finally settled on a $165 per-pupil cut to K-12 education.

And when Governor Granholm got that bill, she delivered another deadly blow to schools, announcing an additional $127 in per-pupil cuts.

She has said the extra cuts are needed to balance the budget. Republicans say it's her way of forcing them to agree to tax hikes.

"We were able to cut $1.2 billion out of the budget," said Rep. Paul Opsommer, Republican from DeWitt. "And she simply doesn't like that and wants to raise more revenue."

Either way, people are fed up with the he said-she said. Lawmakers, believe it or not, are, too.

"They should be frustrated. I'm frustrated," said Rep. Barb Byrum, a democrat from Onondaga.

Opsommer added: "Oh, obviously. If you're gonna tear the schools apart, kids should be upset, parents should be upset."

And that, of course, is the key point: Michigan's schools are about to be dealt a serious blow.

"Superintendents are appalled that they can't figure out from one day to the next how much money they're going to have to spend," Mayes said.

Which Michiganders here in Lansing say could to lead to devastating cuts to after-school-programs, and -- at the worst -- push families out of the state altogether.

"Most parents would say, 'Hey, we need to do what's best for our family,' said Lansing resident Shelly Wiggins. "And we might have to go to another state to get our kid a good education."

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