How Do We Reopen Schools This Year?
Michigan State lawmakers are under tremendous pressure. They’ve yet to complete a return to school blueprint for Michigan and come to an agreement on a plan with the Whitmer administration. Saturday is the deadline for Michigan school districts to write up their individual plans and submit to the state for approval. But many districts have been holding off on their planning, saying they don’t have enough guidance from the legislature and the Governor yet. Lawmakers lost several days of work last week after house and senate members and staff were sent home after a state senator tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. A lot of debate has happened so far this week but it may not be in time.
State school Superintendent Michael Rice this week is telling lawmakers there is an absolute need to waive enrollment and attendance requirements for schools this year. Rice says there are too many problems using old formulas and requirements in the wake of the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 virus outbreak. He wants the legislature to adopt a plan to accept 2019 figures for those items to make it easier for schools. Rice complains he would order the changes, but he doesn’t have the authority. The Governor earlier ordered some related changes but those are set to expire the end of next month. And with a better than 3 billion dollar budget shortfall predicted, most involved know something has to give. The question is what and how much. State budget leaders have a numbers-crunching session coming up in two weeks that may narrow down the potential financial losses faced by the state and what may be coming from Washington to help shore up the books.