Language expansion postponed

An expanded foreign language program for Spring Lake Public Schools has been deflated.
Krystle Wagner
May 24, 2013


Citing budgetary reasons, the district’s Board of Education decided to postpone the program's expansion, more than a month after they voted to expand it.

The curriculum change would have required seventh-grade students to take one credit of world language introductory courses for Spanish and French. Eighth-grade students would have been required to take a world language course.

Spring Lake Superintendent Dennis Furton said April’s approval for the expansion was made based on initial budget assumptions that proved to be false.

“It caught me off-guard, and it shouldn’t have,” he said.

Furton told the board there would need to be a “sizable” increase in state funding to allow the program’s expansion, but now they are looking at receiving less funding from the state.

School board Treasurer Lisa Ashcraft expressed her disappointment, recalling the committee’s excitement when they presented the plan to the board in March.

“I’m sorry we have to do this,” Ashcraft said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Should we be worried about this board's grasp of the Spring Lake Schools budget situation and finances? Grand Haven is addressing their 2013-2014 projected deficit, yet were not hearing much from Spring Lake. Only the talk of asking taxpayers to pass a bond issue to build a new school or two and improve the athletic fields.


Probably nothing to worry about. SL has made the needed adjustments: privatized maintenance, shared administrative positions with other districts, consolidated bus routes, freezes to union & non-union compensation, reductions to professional & support staff, and more. Plus a stable enrollment and, soon, some additional state aid if you believe what is being reported the last few days. My guess: things aren't great but not so dire as GH (who wouldn't be so deep into this mess if not for the contract they have with their teachers extending into next year).


GH has made many of those same adjustments, Winston. And the enrollment in the district is growing. They are "so deep into this mess" not because of the contract with their teachers, but because the state has cut funding repeatedly, and is currently giving Grand Haven less money per student than they received in 2005-06. How about we stop blaming teachers for the fact that our state legislators have repeatedly broken the promises made in proposal A? School funding was supposed to be equalized across the state over 10 years ago, and still isn't. (There are districts in MI that receive almost double the money that our Tri-Cities schools do.) Additionally, the school aid fund has also been raided and misappropriated, so that they could give a huge business tax break. If Michigan doesn't reverse the trend of de-funding schools, you will start to see huge changes to your local schools that you won't like. GH and SL have managed so far because they have tried very hard to keep cuts from impacting students.

Oh-that additional state aid? I wouldn't count on it saving the day. Last I heard, it was going to account for $5 a student more.


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