Legislature sends students back to school with uncertain future
MEA urges lawmakers to resolve budget stalemate, invest in schools
EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 8, 2009 – Thousands of students across Michigan head back to class today, but school administrators are forced to start the year with uncertainty because state lawmakers still haven’t told them how much money they will have to operate.
“A family can’t decide whether they will have enough money to pay their bills if they don’t know how much money is coming in—school districts can’t either. It’s critical for the Legislature to pass a budget so that schools can accurately plan for the coming year,” said Michigan Education Association President Iris K. Salters.
Instead of being able to budget and plan, school districts must guess at funding levels for the year, hoping that lawmakers will come through with enough money to pay for the programs educators have set up.
It’s a situation that benefits no one—especially students.
“Some districts may forgo reducing class size, providing needed Pre-K programs or offering extra reading support because they are unsure whether lawmakers will appropriate enough money to cover them,” said Salters.
By law, school districts must set their own budgets by July 1, a very difficult task without clear direction from Lansing. This year, administrators report receiving wildly varying estimates about how much funding to expect.
“We have been told that we will likely see significantly less funding over the course of the next several budget years. This is in a time of increasing costs, with inflation, energy, health care all going up. The result of these funding reductions will likely be significant program cuts,” Ypsilanti School Superintendent James Hawkins told reporters at a press conference last week.
“In order to bring our state out of this recession, Michigan must invest in education. We cannot prepare students for the jobs Michigan needs if we continually cut funding for the programs they need most,” said Salters.
“The MEA urges lawmakers to put students first and pass a budget without further delay,” said Salters.
Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Communications, 517-337-5508
“The mission of the MEA is to ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality.”
Updated: October 26, 2009 11:28 AM