Yesterday we reported that Michigan education Superintendent Mike Flanagan was working the media hard pushing for the authority to dissolve small school districts teetering on the fiscal brink and to transfer their students to a “receiving” school district nearby — which could be a charter, or could be a cyber-charter hybrid, who knows? He was lobbying for the passage of companion bills HB 4797 and HB 4798 which would bestow vast powers on his office to eliminate home rule in school districts. Under this scheme, the state could simply starve a district of revenues, declare it insolvent, then dissolve it.
Flanagan also paid a visit yesterday to the legislature to report that Michigan currently has 55 school districts operating at a significant budgetary deficit. Although ten of those are expected to dodge the bullet, his report ignored those districts whose projected budgets are seeing red, as Traverse City Public Schools reported recently. Of the approximately 800 districts statewide, many more than 55 are biting the same nails that they’re barely hanging-on with.
A new bill was introduced in the House today to clean-up some details left out of the previous two. Among the minutiae of HB 4813, amending section 12 of The Revised School Code, we find §7(A)&(B), in which lawmakers included an enticing little kick-back incentive to sweeten the pot for the “receiving” school district. While the legislature has mercilessly left most districts fighting each other over financial scraps of less than fifty additional dollars per pupil in foundation grants, this new law would offer a 10 percent bonus to a “receiving” school district. That sum translates into a minimum of $700 per pupil, and could in some cases nearly double the bonus. That’s a whole lotta scratch for a state that claims to be utterly skint.
Let’s stop right here and ask the obvious: Why not just give that money to the distressed school districts?
Amy Kerr Hardin