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Michigan school districts struggle to create budgets without state budget

Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. (WWMT/Emirrora Austin)
Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. (WWMT/Emirrora Austin)
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Michigan schools budgets and the state budget were due July 1, 2021, but state lawmakers proposed a bill proposing to delay the state budget beyond July 1.

Lawmakers had just four days on the legislative calendar before summer break and school districts did not know when legislators would approve the budget.

"If I did I would betting on the lotto tonight because I probably have a better chance at winning at lotto than knowing when the state is going to decide this,” Lakeview School District Superintendent Blake Prewitt said.

Prewitt said setting a budget without knowing how much to expect from the state was like making an educated guess with a lot of variables.

He said the district was focusing on helping students recover from the pandemic and on a safe return to in-person learning in the fall.

He expected the biggest costs would be for staffing amid a shortage of teachers and educators around the state.

"We need custodians, we need food service workers, we need bus drivers and we need to have competitive wages. Well that money doesn’t come out of thin air. So if we don’t get any increase from the state, we’re supposed to still do all these things,” Prewitt said.

Battle Creek Public Schools Executive Director of Business and Finance Rhonda Potts said the district would use federal funds for some pandemic related expenses.

"Improving ventilation, PPE, supporting student social, emotional, mental and academic needs, providing extended learning and technology items," said Potts.

In a vote on June 16, 2021, the Michigan Senate approved about $4.4 billion in federal aid for schools across the state.

"Those funds were supposed to come to us a long time ago and they’ve been held hostage by the legislature," said Prewitt.

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