This took WAY too long
[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]
Updated with a statement from Progress Michigan below.
Facing withering criticism from all fronts, the Snyder administration finally sorted out its priorities and has released money to reopen the Buena Vista schools that have been closed due to lack of funds.
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has released money to the Buena Vista School District to allow the school to reopen and complete the school year.
The Saginaw County school district of 430 students has been closed for two weeks after the district could not make its May 24 payroll and laid off all but three employees.
Flanagan on Wednesday, May 15, approved the district’s third attempt at a deficit elimination plan, clearing the way for the Michigan Department of Education to release funding, the department announced. The district gets $7,776 per pupil.
The funding is Buena Vista’s normal state aid for May, June and July, allowing the district to meet payroll and recall 27 laid-off teachers, among other employees. The education department and district are working together to determine the amounts of the funding, the department stated.
“Now, I encourage the local school board, administration, and staff to get the schools open as soon as possible for the students,” Flanagan said in a statement.
For a technocrat who prides himself on his business acumen, Governor Snyder and his administration showed an offensive amount of hemming and hawing and excuse-making on this issue. Had they had their priorities straight in the first place, they would have advanced the money immediately and sorted out the details afterwards so that the students of Buena Vista, along with their parents and teachers, wouldn’t have been put through the wringer. There’s no doubt that the statewide and national attention this embarrassment has garnered had much to do with it.
Congressman Dan Kildee has been on the forefront of pushing the Snyder administration to act. He released the following statement this morning:
I am pleased to see that the State of Michigan will release state aid payments to the Buena Vista School District. This is certainly a promising development and it is my hope that the kids and teachers will immediately return to their classrooms and finish their school year.
It took great restraint on the Congressman’s part, I’m sure not to add, “What the hell took you so long?”
UPDATE: Jessica Tramontana, Communications Director for Progress Michigan, released the following statement:
The students of Buena Vista Schools have been out of classrooms for eight days while lawmakers in Lansing pointed fingers. There are hundreds of students in the Buena Vista school district who have been denied their constitutional right to a public education, and it should have never come to this. We applaud the decision to finally provide the funds for Buena Vista to reopen their doors, but it’s shameful children had to pay the price for political games in Lansing. It’s time we prioritize Michigan’s kids instead of playing the hot potato blame game, and that starts with Lansing politicians restoring the funding cuts they made to our public schools.