School Cuts Should Be the Last Option our Legislature Considers, Education Leaders Argue
Following the meeting of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference today, educators had a very clear message for state lawmakers: “We’ve supported our communities throughout this crisis, now it’s time for you to support us.”
The report from today’s conference estimates a $1.25 billion hit to the existing year’s School Aid Fund, money that’s largely already been spent as the academic year soon comes to an end, and $1.1 billion in next year’s budget. School leaders have made it clear that providing crisis services over the past two months, along with measures that will be necessary to transition back to in-class learning this Fall, will unquestionably require more funding going forward, not less.
“Schools have been the cornerstones in our communities throughout this crisis by transforming how we serve our students with remote learning, food deliveries and other support services that have helped countless families over the past two months,” said Eve Kaltz, TCA Vice-President and Superintendent of Center Line Schools. “Any suggestion now that cutting our budgets is a plan that we can move forward with simply ignores both the work we’ve been doing over the past two months as well as what will be required for us to safely reopen our doors and re-engage our students with in-class learning this fall.”
The Tri-County Alliance for Public Education is working collaboratively to develop guidelines to safely reopen our schools this Fall. Those guidelines will be focused on providing parents with the assurance that it is safe for their children to return to school buildings by creating social distancing standards, increasing sanitation and other protocols that federal and state health officials will recommend.
Educators warned that all of these guidelines will have new costs associated with them and, if lawmakers are serious about reopening Michigan’s economy fully, they need to ensure schools have the resources to safely reopen their doors as well.
“Our schools are unquestionably going to play a key role in our state’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Lawmakers need to recognize that and ensure that our ability to safely reopen our doors this fall is their single highest priority this budget season,” said Ken Gutman, TCA Secretary-Treasurer and & Superintendent of Walled Lake Schools. “Before lawmakers even consider making cuts to school budgets, they have a responsibility to explore every other option on the table, including using the state’s rainy day fund and joining our call for immediate federal stimulus relief for states to avoid this disastrous alternative.”