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Mid-year public school closings rare nationwide

Sarah Alvarez
Michigan Radio

A public school in Michigan closing before the year ends isn't just a state story.

The Washington Post picked up on the troubles of the Buena Vista school district in a piece by Lyndsey Layton today.

Layton looks at how often these kinds of closings happen around the country:

Such insolvency for a school district is rare: Of the nation’s 12,500 public school districts, about half a dozen run out of money in the middle of the school year, said Mike Griffith, an analyst at the Education Commission of the States. Griffith said some schools threaten to shut down early to get additional state funds. Others decide to close a week or two early, he said. “There have been cases, though, when school districts run out of money halfway through the school year because of mismanagement issues,” Griffith said. “A lot of times, they tend to be smaller districts that, for one reason or another, didn’t understand their problems, didn’t correctly set their budget or made no adjustments during the year.”

Buena Vista made a $400,000 budgeting mistake. The district was given money for a program it was no longer running. The state responded by cutting off state aid payments for the end of the school year.

The school district has been closed since May 3 because it couldn't pay its staff. And state leaders responded, as Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reported, by saying there was little they could do.

Buena Vista School Board President said that mindset changed recently.

From the Washington Post:

The state only appeared to be serious about resolving the problem in recent days after political pressure began to build, Jackson said. “With all the pressure put upon them, they started to open up doors,” he said.

A 'deficit-elimination plan' was given the stamp of approval, so state aid payments will resume.

Layton reports prom will take place May 30, and 25 seniors will graduate on June 4.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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