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Buena Vista, Inkster schools could be dissolved under bills headed to governor

Dwight Burdette
wikimedia commons

The Michigan House has given final approval to bills that will allow the state to dissolve small, struggling school districts.

The legislation now goes to Governor Rick Snyder.

The first two districts affected would be Inkster and Buena Vista.

They’re small, losing students, and don’t have enough money to open in the fall. Republicans say the legislation will ensure students have a place to go when classes begin. They also hope it will encourage struggling districts to consolidate.

State Representative David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) was among those who voted “no.” He says it doesn’t deal with the bigger problem facing schools. 

“Our schools are significantly under-funded,” Knezek commented. “We’ve consistently slashed and burned the funding that we give to our schools, and expect them to do more and more with less and less.” 

Knezek represents the Inkster school district. He says the district can also avert being broken up if the state approves its deficit-elimination plan.

Republicans say the districts already get higher-than-average per-student school aid payments. They say the legislation should encourage more financially struggling districts to consolidate.

The legislation applies to small districts that are losing students and have operating deficits. Right now, neither Inkster nor Buena Vista has enough money to its their doors in the fall.

State Representative Stacey Erwin-Oakes (D-Saginaw) and other Democrats voted “no.” She represents Buena Vista.

“I hope that the governor will ultimately veto it with the understanding that these parents, families, students have no idea what’s next,” Erwin-Oakes said. “As it relates to Inkster, they start summer school on Monday, or do they?” 

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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