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.