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Listen Tuesdays at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FMAccording to the Kids Count report of April 2018, 56% of third graders in Michigan are not proficient in English Language Arts. At the same time, some new public school teachers in Michigan are leaving the classroom because they do not earn enough money for a decent living. Virtual and charter schools are on the rise in Michigan. And in some communities there are breakthroughs in raising better readers.Covering education in Michigan is complex, but WKAR is committed to reporting on the problems, searching for solutions, and holding leaders accountable.Listen for Making The Grade in Michigan with WKAR education reporter Kevin Lavery every Tuesday at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on 90.5 WKAR-FM's Morning Edition.

MI School Districts Move Forward Without Final Budget

family on playground
Kevin Lavery
The James C. Harvey Education Center in Mason features a new playground. District officials say without a finalized state budget, there's no guarantee the early ed program will remain funded this year.

The 2019 school year is well underway…but Michigan superintendents are still waiting for state lawmakers to pass a final education budget. 


Last week, Mason Public Schools Superintendent Ron Drzewicki faced a huge cut.

And all he could do about it was smile.

Donning scissors, Drzewicki sliced through the ribbon to open the newly renovated James C. Harvey Education Center.  In 2017, Mason voters approved the district’s largest-ever school bond issue – almost $70 million – to convert a former elementary into an early childhood facility.

The center will host a number of pre-K offerings, including the Great Start Readiness Program. Children are already enrolling.

But there’s one small snag.

“There’s no money for that,” Drzewicki says.  “And really, we're kind of taking a chance by saying, we're going to go ahead and offer it and incur those expenses even though we don't know for sure that money's coming in.  Who knows what's going to happen?”

GOP leaders have been at odds with Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer over who gets an increase in education funding.  Meanwhile, districts that submitted their figures at the end of June have little if any idea how many dollars they’ll have to work with this year.

Republican lawmakers will lead joint conference committees this week to go over the K-12 numbers.  One of them is Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township).  She’s vice chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid.

Hornberger taught school for 23 years.  She says districts can look at what the governor and legislature are proposing for K-12 right now and make their own estimates.

“So, all of the complaining and the griping that we’re hearing right now about ‘we don’t know what to do,’ and ‘we’re not sure what we’re going to get’ and acting like the sky is falling…I think is pretty much a bunch of bunk,” says Hornberger.

Hornberger and her fellow state lawmakers have until October 1 to find an equation to fund Michigan schools.



Kevin Lavery served as a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered before retiring in 2023.
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