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Speak out now to stop late cuts this year!

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We sent this letter to Chmn. Cushingberry, other members of the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Ebli (Monroe) and Warren (Ann Arbor), and Sens. Brater and Richardville, on April 5th. A copy of the final letter in PDF form is attached to this posting. Dear friends, As you may know, last week the Senate passed a bill, along party lines, that would cut $34 per pupil from school districts' allowances for this year. This and other cuts were part of an attempt by the Senate's Republican majority to close the School Aid Fund deficit of $377 million without any new revenues. While the $34 cut seems small, it is coming so late in the schools' fiscal years that it has the potential to be very destructive -- especially to districts which have little or no reserve. (To put the number in perspective, Ann Arbor, with over 16,700 students, would lose nearly $570,000 in state funding right at the end of the school year. Monroe, with 6,800 students, would lose over $230,000.) The bill also makes no changes to how schools are funded, or where the money comes from, so we'll have to figure it out all over again with next year's budget (2007-08). Most of the money for closing the gap this year came from one-time accounting changes to the state teachers' retirement fund; this "trick" won't be available to us again. The state House of Representatives is just now taking up the Senate bill (SB 221), and there will soon be hearings about it in the House Appropriations committee. This is a critical juncture, since the House has the chance to pass an alternative proposal and work with the Senate to find a compromise. Many House members, and the Governor, have already said the late cuts to schools are unacceptable. If we are to be credible, however, we need to step up and say that we as parents and citizens are willing to do our part to keep our schools strong. We have already delivered this letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee, but there will certainly be more work to do. We welcome your support, and invite you to send us your contact information, including email, so that we can sign you up for our notifications. Send your message to: info@miparentsforschools.org Let's work to make a difference, together! Steve Norton Michigan Parents for Schools PS - To find out more about SB221 and what it means for schools, see the article on our website here: http://www.miparentsforschools.org/?q=node/28
Hon. George Cushingberry, Jr. Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations S0687 House Office Building P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514 Dear Chairman Cushingberry, We are parents of children who attend Michigan public schools, and we are writing you today about Senate Bill 221, which is currently before your committee. As you know, this bill sets forth the Senate's plan to close the deficit in the School Aid Fund for the current fiscal year without finding new revenue. As part of that effort, the bill calls for a $34 per pupil "proration" of the foundation allowance - in other words, a cut in State aid to schools well into their fiscal years. We strongly urge you and your colleagues on the committee and in the House to develop an alternative proposal for closing the School Aid Fund deficit that does not involve cuts to districts so late in the year. You are aware, we are sure, of the number of districts statewide that could be pushed into insolvency with these cuts, and a much larger number of districts are near to exhausting their reserves after several years of school aid payments that have not kept up with inflation. Moreover, while a cut of this size might have been manageable (if unwelcome) last summer, giving districts time to prepare, implementing this cut now will be extremely disruptive to most districts in the state. We are very worried about what this will mean for our children's schools. We agree with educators and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who argue that now is the time to invest in public education rather than pull the props out from under it. Asking for new funding, in the current economic climate, carries with it certain responsibilities: parents are justified in demanding that our local schools act as prudent stewards of public funds, and all groups involved need to be willing to make reasonable sacrifices. As parents and citizens, we are willing to do our part by making financial sacrifices so that our children's public schools can have adequate and stable funding. But under current law, we cannot make these kinds of decisions locally. Most of all, we urge you and your colleagues to work toward a stable and lasting solution to the problems presented by our current system of school funding - one that is fair to our State's children as well as its taxpayers. The effort to close the current deficit in school aid may provide an opening to do just that. Thank you very much for your consideration, Steven & Lynda Norton Jeannette Jackson Janice & Andrew Lieberman Jennifer Tanau ---- Michigan Parents for Schools (www.miparentsforschools.org) Jennifer Abram, Petersburg Raven Ausmus, Monroe Carol Barron, La Salle, MI Jennifer Barth, Monroe Nancy and David Baum, Ann Arbor Teri J. Boron, Monroe Mike & Cindy Bott, Ann Arbor Chris & Michael Boudrie, Monroe Sharon Boyd, Ann Arbor Donald Brady, Monroe Jane Brennan, Grosse Pointe Kelly & Shane Bumgarner, Ann Arbor Dale Carter, Monroe Ian Cooke, Monroe Mary S. Cowell, Monroe Samantha & Stephen Daly, Ann Arbor Jerry Davis, Ann Arbor Elizabeth DeRose, Ann Arbor Tammy Dozier, Monroe Lavina Durell, Monroe Michael Durell, Monroe Carrie A. Dworkin, Ann Arbor Steve Favreau, Monroe Connie Fleeman, Monroe Dawn M. Gallagher, Monroe Katherine Ganzel, Ann Arbor Angela L. Gapuz, Monroe Melissa A. Gast, Canton Lori Goins, Monroe Sam & Nancy Guich, Monroe Elaine S. Guyer, Monroe Andrea Hansell, Ann Arbor Jennifer Heringhausen, Monroe Robert Heringhausen, Monroe Jennifer Hills, Monroe Abigail Hohner, Ann Arbor Janice Howard, Monroe Laura Hughson, Monroe Sucheta Joshi & Krishna Garikipati, Ann Arbor Jack & Angela Katz, Monroe Kathryn A. Kisonas, Monroe Dawn Kimble, Monroe Dawn Korman, Ann Arbor Sandra Kurtansky, Monroe Paula Mandell, Monroe Jessica Martell, Monroe Ginger & Jerry Mason, Monroe Christine McQueen, Monroe Loretta Miller, Monroe Kellyann & David Morgan, Monroe Kellyjo Muncie, Newport James Murray, Monroe Charles Myers, Monroe Pete Myers, Monroe Raina Myers, Monroe Cindy & Scott Perelman, Monroe Leona Perelman, Monroe Lisa Perelman, Monroe Sue Pickens, Monroe Callistia Pipis, Monroe Darrin & Tammy Pocs, Monroe Renee Poniewozcik, Monroe Beth & Jim Ressler, Ann Arbor Penny Revels, Monroe Virginia Rogers, Ann Arbor Susan Rothenberger, Monroe Brit Satchwell, Ann Arbor Greg Sevva, Monroe Nicole M. Slater, Monroe Gretchen Spreitzer & Bob Schoeni, Ann Arbor Helen Starman, Ann Arbor Charlene F. Stockard, Monroe Ginger Stuck, Monroe Tonya M. Sweat, Monroe Paul Toth, Monroe Sheryl A. Valeri, Monroe Gail & Todd Valmassei, Monroe Jerome & Gloria VanBelle, Monroe Kathy Vensel, Monroe Peggy Walsh, Ann Arbor Kathryn A. & Mark A. Webb, Monroe Patricia A. West, Monroe Janine Yancich, Mattawan Dierdre Younglove, Monroe Carole Zenz, Chelsea Tim Zorn, LaSalle


Rep. Richard LeBlanc, Democrat representing the 18th District (Westland), and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, sent us this response to our letter by email on 8 April.
Thank you for your email regarding SB221 and our budget crisis in the State of Michigan. I agree stability regarding education funding is necessary and overdue. I do not, however, agree with SB221. It is clear that state government under Governor Granholm will continue to focus on the core state services and will demand that those services be administered in a more efficient manner. In these tough economic times our government must learn to live within its means, without hurting those who need its support the most, and this is my objective as well. Difficult choices will have to be made, and you can be assured that I will keep your e-mail in mind as budget matters come before the House. Thank you. Regards, Richard LeBlanc State Representative - 18th District (Westland)
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