Baldwin Schools Begin School Year While Waiting On State Budget

Baldwin Community Schools officially became the first school district to head back to school with their first day today.

They start the school year without a finalized budget because lawmakers haven’t decided on their budget and how much will go to schools.

And it may be a while before they do.

“You know the first day is always a fun day,” says Rick Heitmeyer, Baldwin’s superintendent, ”It’s an exciting day.”

Exciting but nerve wracking. Baldwin is the first but almost every Northern Michigan school will start the new year without a solid budget, thanks to a deadlocked legislature.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to make some staffing decisions,” says Heitmeyer.

With the legislature out of session for the summer, the budget discussion has sat stagnant.

“When you’re looking at the House, the Senate and the Governor‘s budget, they are not exactly on the same page,” says Heitmeyer.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is feeling pressure to get it done as she expressed last week.

“They will be a sixth of the way through their academic year budget and they won’t even know what they’re working with,” says Gov. Whitmer, “That’s unconscionable.”

So as classes begin, everything will have to be estimated.

“Right now, I think there are a lot of schools that their budgets may not be accurate because they don’t know what the numbers really are,” says Heitmeyer.

Heitmeyer says it’s probably better to undersell the potential budget because it’s always nice to add to the budget and surprise yourself later, than get halfway through the school year and have to start making cuts.

“You have to be conservative when you put it together and hope you’re able to expand down the road,” says Heitmeyer.

This year Baldwin estimated a bit of a budget uptick. Last year they received $919,140 from he state, this year they think it will be more like $1,033,000. For the past eight years, Governor Rick Snyder gave schools less but made sure it at least came on time.

“You didn’t always agree with it,” says Heitmeyer, “But you knew you could plan accordingly.”