A Huron Valley Schools grassroots committee is hosting a public forum today, Wednesday, May 18, called School Funding — Why Should I Care?
It will be held between 10 and 11:30 a.m. at Lakeland High School’s LGI room, and a second session will be presented from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Milford High School’s cafeteria.
The grassroots campaign, spearheaded by a seven-member committee, is intent on spreading awareness of the district’s financial challenges in order to propel people to action, given the state’s budget for the 2012 Fiscal Year.
“Our dual purpose is to show people all the steps we’ve undertaken and for them to call their legislators,” said committee member Kim Galbraith.
The panel testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee; made two more trips to Lansing to meet with legislators; and hosted a pair of influential lawmakers in the school district, including state Reps. Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc), chairman of the House Education Committee, and Bill Rogers (R-Milford).
“We showed Paul Scott the IA (International Academy) and Harbor High to show him two children are not alike — there’s a whole spectrum of children in need,” Galbraith said.
The committee met with Rogers at Baker Elementary School, one of the district’s three shuttered facilities, where superintendents from his district attended so he could understand first-hand the impact of Snyder’s education budget that will slash on average $470 per student for the next academic year. By adding in other expenditures, it translates into a loss of $1,294 per student, according to district officials.
“With the loss of revenue from declining enrollment, special education funding and expiring federal stimulus funds, coupled with increases in expenses such as health care costs and supplies, that’s an additional $553 per student to the $741 per-pupil reduction,” said Huron Valley Director of Community Relations Janet Roberts.
The total $1,294 per student shortfall equates to $12.9 million or about 14 percent of the school district’s 2011-12 budget that must be cut to balance the new spending plan by June 30.
Moreover, the school district could see a $15 million deficit for 2012-13 given the current status of the budget.
“We will use some of fund balance for 2011-12 and 2012-13, but it will not cover the whole amount (only about $2 to $3 million),” Roberts said.
Despite the grassroots committee’s efforts, Galbraith said legislators remain impervious.
“I’m afraid it’s falling on deaf ears,” Galbraith said. “We are at an exceptional risk because we don’t have additional money to play with.”