By Ian Perrotta
As if the news about the recently passed K-12 budget that cut per-pupil aid by $165 wasn’t bad enough, it now seems another $127-per-student cut may be in the works.
On Oct. 22, Gov. Jennifer Granholm challenged legislators to come up with additional revenue to aid the struggling school system. If they can’t, a total of $292 per student in state aid could be lost.
The additional cut could come Nov. 22. That’s when Granholm’s 30-day period given to legislators to find the extra revenue expires.
Though Granholm announced the proposed cut, she is not a proponent of it. Currently she is attempting to drum up support for new revenue sources by encouraging residents and parents to contact their legislators to voice concern against the cut. And while many Democrats support her plan to raise additional revenue, she still needs the backing of her Republican counterparts to enact it.
Locally, Hamtramck Public Schools Superintendent Tom Niczay is also trying to curtail the possible budget cuts. Right now he and his administration are in the process of coming up with a plan to consolidate costs and alleviate expenses, although nothing is official yet.
“I would like for us and other schools – as well as the whole state – to work on pooling healthcare,” he said, “but something like that would have to come from the governor.”
A full budget report made by Hamtramck Public Schools’ independent auditor will be made at the next School Board meeting, to be held on Nov. 11 at the school district’s Administrative Office. While Niczay did say that it appears the $165 per-student cut will not likely increase, until the state’s final decision is made a specific budget deficit elimination plan will not be ready.
Niczay also noted that there are some proposals to reduce expenditures that he is dead-set against. One of those, championed by former State Superintendent Tom Watkins, is the closing and consolidation of school districts. Watkins would like to see several underperforming school districts consolidated, a move Niczay believes would be greatly detrimental to not only the schools affected, but the cities as well.
“Healthcare reform sounds good, but consolidating schools and municipalities is a horrible idea,” he said. “I’d like to make sure that Hamtramck Public Schools, and Hamtramck itself, stays around for the next generation, and generations after that.”