Friday, March 11, 2011

Legislative Action Alert




The Problem: The public schools learned last week that our budget for next year will be cut by $2,000,000. Considering last years cuts (which we hoped would be restored) and the new cuts, EGR will receive $400 less per child. This translated into close to $2,000,000 in cuts that will have to be made. This is in addition to the $3,500,000 in cuts we have already made the last 5 years. The new cuts could impact all support programs, foreign language, and anything extracurricular in our district. It will also involve elimination of teachers. The face of public education will change dramatically.

The History: Schools in Michigan are funded through Proposal A, a Constitutional ballot proposal that was passed in 1994. This fund pools all property tax dollars, sales tax dollars, and lottery funds into a “pot” called the School Aid Fund. Since 1994, that pot is then divided up among students in the state. In the past 7 years, with declining property and sales tax revenues, the fund has significantly decreased. Despite this decrease, our school district has made adjustments by asking teachers/staff to contribute more and by making significant cuts to very successful programs. So far, we have protected the majority of students and kept the cuts away from the classroom. Our teachers have had to do more with less. We have indeed “shared in the sacrifice” just by how schools are funded. Proposition A does not allow us to ask you, the citizens of EGR, for more money to operate our schools. Our hands are tied completely by the funding the State tells us we get each year.

The Budget: We were relieved to find out that the pot of money for schools was stabilizing. The schools have lived through tremendous hardship the last several years. It was a huge relief when we found out that the School Aid Fund had a surplus and that we no longer would have to cut and cut more. It was beyond shocking to find out that the voter-approved Proposition A “pot of money” for K-12 education is now going to include Community College and Higher Education Funding. With this addition, our funding is cut DRAMATICALLY almost overnight. This additionally does not take into account the state-mandated retirement contribution rate, which under the Governor’s proposal, jumps MASSIVELY. Taking that into account, the cuts come out to more like $700 per student.

The Call to Action: This is a pivotal moment in the history of public education in our state. Either we are committed to educating our children and ensuring a strong economic future for our State, or we are headed the way of states in other parts of the country that long ago abandoned public education. EGR has a long and proud history of excellence. It will be extraordinarily difficult to continue that with the proposed budget impact. We need ALL HANDS ON DECK.

1. Every parent should contact our State Representative and Senator.

2. The School Board is sending a letter to all important elected officials in Lansing. We will be asking parents and the community at large for signatures to support this letter. The letter makes several recommendations.  We support the goal of taking higher ed out of the School Aid Fund.  We support the goal of retirement reform.  We support the goal of properly funding public schools.

Thank you for your time and investment in our children. Contact your building representative if you need further help or have any questions. Check out for more (and ongoing) information as well as sample letters. We are also on Facebook (EGR Legislative Committee).

Your PTSA Legislative Committee

Building Representatives:

Lucy LaFleur (Chair), Middle School

Anne Grobel, Breton Elementary

Elizabeth Lykins, Wealthy Elementary

Ann Pater-Beeny, Lakeside Elementary

David Bair, High School

Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons

S-1190 House Office Building

PO Box 30014

Lansing, MI 48909

Toll Free 855.596.6786

Senator Mark Jansen

S-310 Capitol Building

PO Box 30036

Lansing, MI 48909


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