When I managed the editorial page for my high school newspaper, I spent a lot of my time looking at our school district’s budget situation. Somewhere in my mother’s house I still have tapes from interviews with my principal where he told me that year after year our school and district had been facing the effects of the automotive recession. He lamented over potential cuts to enrichment programs and staffing. That was eight years ago.
In addition to annual cuts, schools now compete with a massive tax cut for businesses thanks to our Republican Governor and Legislature. Note that the article says Governor Snyder hoped to fund schools and universities in the years ahead. We’ve yet to see it. So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when the Buena Vista School District shut its doors last month, unable to complete the school year. They didn’t have the funds to pay the teachers.
Could there have been mismanagement in Buena Vista? Certainly. But, when you look at the landscape, and you see 55 school districts wading through some form of budget deficit, then you know there is some kind of problem.
The Republican solution? Consolidate! I call that kicking the can down the road. If they want to have a debate about school structures (local versus county) then we can have a debate about school structures. But let’s not kid ourselves. Our schools can’t take any more cuts. Frankly, it was illogical and immoral to cut school funding in favor of a massive business tax cut in the first place. Let’s right the ship and fund our schools so that our kids don’t have to deal with year after year consolidation on top of everything else.