Skubick: Schools singing the red ink blues

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – 58 of Michigan’s 4000 schools are swimming in red ink and the state school superintendent thinks part of the problem is schools of choice.

While school kids toured the Capitol the state school superintendent was reporting that 58 districts will end the year in the red. Only two of those are in our area, Pinckney and Perry.

Urban school lobbyist Ray Tellman explains where the bulk of districts facing deficits are found. “Primarily you find deficit districts where there is poverty and much of that is in our urban districts.”

The state school superintendent reports mismanagement is not the major problem; it’s fewer kids being born and perhaps too much choice that sees students moving from one district to another.
“Enrollment instability, it could be declining enrollment, it could be choice,” says state school superintendent Mike Flanagan. “But while I support choice it might be time for a moratorium on choice and that would stabilize enrollments.”

The Senate chair of the K-12 budget believes part of the problem in deficit districts is the inability of local school boards to cut their budgets. Sen. Geoff Hansen says “There are a lot of tough choices that local schools have to make and that is difficult.” Sen. Hansen says if they don’t make those decisions they would be in trouble.

The soon-to-be ex-school superintendent reports that 27 districts are getting out of their red ink and the long term prognosis? “We’ve bottomed out and things are getting a lot better.”

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