Schools brace for possible budget cuts

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By Andrew Krietz
Lansing Star staff writer

With Governor Rick Snyder’s “budget bomb” since detonated, Lansing School District officials are trying to pick up the pieces and look toward the future.

Public schools across the state stand to lose about $300 per student should Snyder’s budget proposal moves forward. Michigan’s 2012 educational budget proposal is about $18.6 million, down from $21.9 million last fiscal year.

Education cuts to the district might place its schools increasingly behind as officials must meet state requirements with less, said school board president Shirley Rodgers at a Feb. 17 meeting.

“We have to update facilities and there seems to be a disconnect between the requirements and our ability to meet them — not that we don’t want to,” Rodgers said.

Each dollar taken away from the district becomes more difficult to make up with the requirements in place, she said, as less money is routed outside the classroom and not to the students who need it.

Calls made to Lansing School District Superintendent T.C. Wallace Jr. were not returned.

State Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, also spoke at the meeting and said decreased funding for schools across the state worsen an already damaged educational system.

“I haven’t seen a cute that large since I’ve been a state representative for the last four years,” she said. “Of all things we need to be investing in, it’s education, and that’s what’s going to turn our state around.”

Although Snyder wishes to get the state’s economy on track, Bauer said it starts with public education. The shared sacrifice can be necessary only if there is investment in education, she added.

“(We’re) under national average of bachelor’s degrees,” she said. “To me, that’s how we’re going to get jobs.”

During the unveiling of the proposed budget on Feb. 17, Snyder did not make reference to the proposed cuts to public education in addition to those affecting Michigan’s 15 public universities. But such cuts, he said, are necessary.

Snyder asked members of the Legislature to finalize the state budget by May 31, months ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline. With both sides of the aisle holding onto their own beliefs, an early deadline might be a tough target to reach.

“This is more than just a budget or a tax proposal,” Snyder said. “This is our opportunity to say ‘Let’s stop living in the past and start looking toward the future.’”

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