Michigan lawmakers were burning the midnight oil, trying to ram through willy-nilly as much legislation as they possibly could before they go on summer break in a week. Much of it ill-planned and poorly written, as is the case with a governing body that has nearly no institutional memory under term limit restrictions.
When Buena Vista Schools shut their doors last month, lawmakers hastily slapped together one set of bills designed to convey the authority to the state to dissolve smaller school districts in the blink of an eye and transfer their students to another district. Within a couple of days they rewrote their scheme with an added bonus of giving the “receiving” district a 10 percent bump in per pupil funding on the transferred students for four years. That works out to an additional $2,800 to $3,600 per transplant over that period of time, on top of their regular foundation grant.
While they can pat themselves on the back for ensuring this isn’t seen as another un-funded mandate to the receiving district, it in no way addresses the underlying systemic funding problems with Michigan’s schools. And of course, none of this serves the debt-load of the dissolved district — it still exists for that community. Those legacy costs don’t magically disappear. Additionally, it is little more than buying into the myth that consolidation saves money.
This is reactionary lawmaking — the kind that inevitably leads to tragic unforeseen consequences…and more bad laws.
Amy Kerr Hardin