BCS officials express concerns over state funding proposal


BALDWIN - With school district officials around the state shuddering at what proposed cuts in state funding could mean to local public education, Baldwin Community Schools’ planners are also looking carefully at the suggested figures and are calling the situation “troublesome.”

Even with the unique situation the BCS district finds itself in with regard to per pupil funding, there still is a lot to lose. That has financial planners looking very carefully at the future.

“The governor’s proposed budget cuts could well create a loss of some $370,000 to the Baldwin district,” reported superintendent Randall Howes.

“This loss in revenue wouldn’t come from the per pupil funding cuts that are so affecting many other school districts, but rather would be cuts in categorical funding - from our Great Start readiness program, and At Risk dollars.”

If the budget cuts are pro-rated, the district would basically lose all the funding it has for these two programs.

That doesn’t necessarily mean these programs would be eliminated. It does mean distinct officials would be scrambling to figure out how to maintain the funding for the programs and offerings being paid for with this potentially lost revenue.

But, in fact, cuts could be even deeper.

Based on the most recent information, BCS district planners believe the district could lose funding to the tune of $155,030 in the “Best Case Scenario” and up to $526,630 in the “Worst Case Scenario.”

A lot of money.

“Fact is, with the information we have at hand right now, we expect we could lose over $430,000 in what we’ve termed the “Most Likely Scenario,” said Howes.

“It’s tough.

“It’s a huge concern.”

The superintendent noted that Board of Education officers and trustees could choose to continue supporting affected programs with General Fund money - fully or to some degree.

“We are already supplementing these programs with our local budget,” he said. “The funding we receive is not enough to completely pay for the programs affected in the first place.

“Still, if we lose as much funding as anticipated this could have a very detrimental ripple effect on our entire program.

“We certainly could make up some of the lost revenue from captured tax funding once the prison is up and running, but that doesn’t help right now, and that is still in limbo with regard to exact figures.”

At Risk dollars are used to fund tutoring and mentoring programs throughout the school district. They also help fund credit recovery programs and the Read 180 program among others.

“The reason we have these programs in place is that we believe we are making a difference and helping more kids be successful in their studies and as they look to the future,” Howes pointed out.

“If we eliminate these programs because of budget reductions, the advances we’ve made over the years will just fall apart.

“The fact is, the reason we’re having budget funding problems in K-12 public education in this state is because the governor is taking huge amounts of money from the School Aid Fund in order to support community colleges and universities.

“We want our kids to go to college and be successful. The irony of the situation is that in order to support colleges and universities, we are hurting the educational programs that prepare young people to attend those same institutions of higher education.

“It’s just silly.

“They are simply pulling the preparational rug out from under the feet of young people who desperately need help in reaching their college goals.”

BCS district planners are looking at ideas for making up anticipated shortfalls in the budget.

Nothing has been presented to the board as yet.

“We have to look at all of our budgeting options and alternatives,” said Howes.

“We are going to be investigating how we can best cut our expenditures without hurting people or programs.”

It the same drill we go through every year. This year, however, it’s more painful.

“It’s tough for a small school district to find ways to cut that don’t hurt the larger program, but at the same time I think things will work out for us.” Howes continued.

“Still, I’m sure we will not be as sorely impacted as some of our neighbors.”

Howes is confident the BCS district will weather the storm.

“We’ll survive,” he said. “Honestly, I’m glad I’m in this district and not in some of the districts that are really going to be hurting around the state.

“It’s not a good time for public education in the State of Michigan.

“Troublesome. Very troublesome.”