LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Make education funding a priority

May 17, 2011

As districts across the state struggle to put together plans to manage this enormous funding gap, there is new information that we believe imperative to share with you that could impact school funding. The latest figures from our state financial experts show that, even without tax increases, revenues flowing into Lansing have exceeded the January projections by $455 million. Given this new information, it is unthinkable that our legislators would not use a portion of this revenue to restore the largest reduction ever in school funding. Expectations of our schools have never been higher: We welcome the challenge. In light of this improved revenue picture, however, we believe it to be unacceptable to leave the unprecedented reduction in place.

For that reason, we are asking you to share this information with school supporters. Ask that they urge our legislators to do the right thing and make education a priority again in Michigan by restoring school funding to the 2009-2010 Foundation Allowance level without cutting funding in other categories in order to offset the restoration.

Our school districts have unprecedented programs of excellence that our communities have historically embraced. This excellence has not only been well-documented in our classrooms, but on our athletic fields, in our performing arts centers, and through a numerous service clubs and programs. From a business perspective, our districts are viewed as being financially well-managed, having established and maintained healthy fund balances and quality educational programs during what many districts considered challenging financial times.

If you believe, as we do, that continuing exceptional educational opportunities are key to the future of our communities as well as our state, we ask that you communicate your concern to our legislators and the governor immediately. Time is of the essence.

Thank you for making our students a priority.

— Keith Konarska, superintendent Grand Haven Area Public Schools
— Dennis Furton, superintendent, Spring Lake Public Schools

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was also signed by each member of the Grand Haven and Spring Lake school boards.

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