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GOP plan calls for more money for back-to-school plans

Children in the hallway of a school
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to roll out her plans next week on re-opening schools in the fall. Tuesday, the Legislature’s Republican leaders outlined their proposed back-to-school plans.

Kindergarten-through-fifth graders would have to have some classroom time, while more resources would also be devoted to at-home learning. But it’s still a work in progress, especially when it comes to paying for back-to-school plans. Some of the money would come from the federal government.

Representative Pamela Hornberger is a Republican who chairs the House Education Committee.

“Because of the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on Michigan’s economy, we know K-12 funding will face major challenges in the future."

That includes School Aid Fund shortfalls adding up to $2 billion dollars in this fiscal year and next, as well as another $1 billion dollars needed to make classrooms safe for students’ return.

Peter Spadafore is with the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. He says the Republican plan is a step in the right direction.

“Cautiously optimistic that there’s recognition of the added costs, but remain curious as to how we fully fund those promises,” he says.

Hornberger says the plan relies heavily on federal dollars to get schools through this year.

“This stability will give us time to assess the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown on Michigan’s budget and the School Aid Fund, and it gives us time to plan future K-12 funding," she says.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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