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After four days of no classes, Saginaw district prepares for financial emergency

Christopher Webb

It’s day four of no school for Saginaw-based Buena Vista School District, as the district prepares to declare a financial emergency.

As Mark Brush reported on Tuesday, the school district canceled classes earlier this week after teachers were laid off. The layoffs come after the district of about 450 students learned the state was withholding funding for April, May and June.

According to the Buena Vista School District’s website, almost no jobs were spared as the district lacked funding to keep faculty in the classroom.

Earlier this month, state officials discovered they were overpaying the district, providing funding for a teacher training program the school didn’t participate in. Now the state looks to compensate for the misappropriated funds, which is estimated to be about $400,000.

Though teachers offered to work for free until Friday, May 10, the district decided to keep the schools closed. According to the district’s website, administrators are unwilling to break Michigan law, which prohibits teachers from working without pay.

“We thank the teaching staff for their dedication, and understand their frustration... However, we must stress that under current circumstances, there is no ability to compensate staff for their services and there is no indication that there will be money for such compensation at any time in the future.”

With only 22 days left in the school year, students, parents and faculty alike are wondering when school will be back in session. Lawmakers too, are curious when the school will reopen its doors, and when the state government will start intervening.

State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, called on Governor Rick Snyder to bring funding to the district.

"This is the very definition of a crisis and I'm calling on Governor Snyder to use rainy day fund dollars and immediately reopen the Buena Vista Schools and send a message to the students there that their education and their futures are every bit as important as those in other school districts across the state."

Whitmer was joined by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint.

“The students of Buena Vista have a constitutional right to an education and the state has a legal responsibility to provide it,” Kildee said on Wednesday.

The district’s school board President Randy L. Jackson told MLive that the district is planning on declaring a financial emergency at tonight’s school board meeting.

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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