With Budget Passed, Concerns Linger Over School Cuts

CANTON/DEARBORN (WWJ) – As Governor Rick Snyder and state Republicans celebrate their budget deal, some Michigan lawmakers and educators remain concerned about what cuts to education will mean for students.

State Representative Diane Slavens represents the 21st District communities of Canton, Belleville and Van Buren. One change she predicts is a significant increase in class size.

“I have three children who graduated from the Plymouth-Canton schools. When they were in… kindergarten, they had 19 students in a classroom. They’re talking about growing to 30. That’s ridiculous. What’s going to happen to those children when they reach first grade, and then second?” she said.

Slavens said schools in her district have already been taking steps to economize.

“We have three high schools with one principal. For years we’ve had Art-On-The-Cart where the teacher comes into the classroom; same with music. So, they have been cutting year after year. We share… a small example is salt, with the township and the city’s around us. So, we’re sharing services,” Slavens said.

Slaves said the Plymouth-Canton school district could see a funding cut of $18 million.

Other Metro Detroit districts share similar concerns.

Dearborn Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston said that, although the school aid cuts won’t be as deep as earlier thought, the district will still have to make millions of dollars in cuts.

“It’s $200 less of a cut (per-pupil) that we anticipated, but it’s still going to have a real impact on our budgets,”  Whiston said.

And he said, that’s after their employees made some sacrifices in a new contract, including taking a six to seven percent pay cut.

“If our employees hadn’t done that, to look at the amount of money we would have had to cut — that would have been all transportation, all sports, and about 300 staff members. So, we were facing a severe impact to the programs we offered if our employees hadn’t reached that settlement,” Whiston said.

Whiston said they’re also extending the number of years it takes to get to the top of the pay scale and employees took over the responsibility of their insurance.

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