UPDATE: State Senators Approve School Budget

In their late session Wednesday night, state senators approved the K-12 budget that includes a per-pupil funding increase

The state will spend about four percent more on public education under the plan that now goes to the governor for his signature.

It gives at least an extra $50 per pupil to districts next year.

The lowest-funded districts will get $175 more per student to help reduce funding disparity.

Public universities will also get almost six percent more in funding and three percent more will go to community colleges.

Lawmakers in Lansing are still working on the state budget, but for some, their decisions won’t be made soon enough.

If the current budget is approved, Michigan’s K-12 schools would get at least 50 dollars more per student.

But for some northern Michigan schools making their own budget decisions, it’s too little too late.

June 30th is the deadline for schools in Michigan to finalize their budget.

Many are frustrated because they don’t feel they have enough time to adjust to decisions made in Lansing.  

“We don’t want to cut anything, it’s just the simple matter of dollars, it’s about numbers.”

Pine River Area Schools still hasn’t finalized their budget. They’ve made small cuts so far, and are hoping larger ones, like a teacher or their soccer program, aren’t next. 

“The cuts that we did make were internal, were a way of us controlling some of the spending that we haven’t been doing in the past,” says Superintendent Matt Lukshaitis.

At Kaleva Norman Dickson schools, they have already made their tough decision. 

“We ended up laying off one science teacher, and then we had two more staff reductions, an art position and also a social studies position and those were reduced to 49 percent,” explains Superintendent Marlen Cordes.

Both superintendents say declining enrollment has caused funds to plummet. 

“It’s been 9 consecutive years that we’ve faced that challenge,” says Cordes.

Lukshaitis agrees, “Even thinking about laying somebody off is painful, but we have lost over 200 students in the last 7 years.”

As they wait on news from Lansing, they’re hopeful that one day the budget planning can coincide so they aren’t making these cuts every year.  

It’s too bad that we couldn’t line up better and get some more traction earlier in the spring so that our school systems can operate on a budget for the upcoming fall with some sort of actually planning. We just need some money somehow.”

Also impacting school budgets; health insurance.

At Pine River, they say over the past two years, the cost has increased a combined 47 percent.