DIANA S. BYRNE: School finance is more complicated than some believe

TO THE EDITOR:

I invite Sue Roshak – and anyone else who believes BRPS is crying wolf regarding how necessary the funds raised through the MOISD regional enhancement mileage were to us – to read this and attend our 5:30 p.m. June 28 budget hearing at the BRHS Media Center.

Ms. Roshak is correct, the BRPS board approved the purchase of laptops. We also approved the unbudgeted purchase of three used buses.

Long gone are the days of purchasing expensive text books every year for every student. Outstanding teachers combined with technology are how our students receive curriculum. These laptops will be used in the classroom to teach curriculum to students.

In the case of the laptops, our IT director and administrators did due diligence in securing multiple bids. Computers currently in those classrooms will be moved to the computer lab, and those computers will be utilized elsewhere.

Buses were purchased to replace decades-old vehicles that this year would have been red-tagged by the state inspector. We could no longer put off replacing them.

Although the bus purchase was not budgeted, we didn’t put ourselves further in the hole because we used monies received through state “best practice” requirements. If you remember, this was part of the “stick and carrot” budgeting method developed last year by the state which basically said, “we’re going to cut your per pupil funding (again), but you MIGHT get SOME of the money back IF you meet certain benchmarks we set for you” (state legislators apparently believe school boards and administrators can’t run their own districts).

These purchases were necessary. Not wants, but needs.

Those MOISD millage dollars would have helped. Now the funds for these purchases won’t go toward the deficits we will face in the upcoming year.

When you take into account ALL of the scenarios flying around Lansing when our legislators created a budget and determined what to cut from K-12 funding this “things aren’t as bad as we thought” comment emerges. It means rather than having to cut, say, $700,000 from our budget we’ll ONLY cut $400,000.

From a personal finance perspective, that’s saying I thought I was going to miss my mortgage and car payment this month, now it looks like I’ll only miss my car payment.

Real people work as school administrators and real people serve on our school boards. We’re all very clear on the definition of “broke.”

If you wish to learn more about budgeting, or how we make decisions that are the best for our students – now and in the long term – how we strive to maintain our programs, and look for new ways to support our talented staff, I invite you to the budget hearing, to monthly school board meetings or to call me at any time.

DIANA S. BYRNE

President, Big Rapids Public

Schools Board of Education

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