With Federal Shutdown, Muskegon Public Schools Watching Funding

Andrew Trzaska | October 15, 2013

Muskegon Public School and other districts will not immediately see major cash flow problems due to the government shutdown, but it remains possible they could start to see issues if it continues into November and beyond.

The possible hardships stem from a complex funding system that includes state education dollars, federal education dollars, child nutrition programs and many other sources. Some sources will continue providing dollars as planned, while others may dry up if the shutdown stretches on.

At Monday’s Board of Education work session, Muskegon Public Schools Superintendent Jon Felske shared an email from Kyle Guerrant, Director of School Support Services at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) on the topic.

Most findings from the MDE indicate that districts won’t be in trouble for the month of October, and in many funding areas November appears to be safe too.

The next aid payment the State of Michigan should arrive as scheduled on October 21, 2013 “as normal with no reductions as a result of the Federal Government” according to.  No details were given beyond the October payment.

Districts should also be able to get funds for Title I-A and other federal formula grants because they are “forward funded”, meaning they are budgeted into the next fiscal year.

Until the past few days, school food programs a point of concern for school districts, including in Muskegon. A majority of students at Muskegon Public Schools receive free or reduced lunch, which is funded by the National School Lunch program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The State of Michigan said last week it was only able to fund school lunch programs through November 1. Since then, the federal government appears to be ready to support school lunch programs at least through November should the shutdown continue.

While the director of the USDA’s Child Nutrition Division said the USDA does have funding to last for “several months in [fiscal year] 2014,” no definite timeline was given. This means that if the shutdown continues deep into the calendar year, funding issues with the program may reappear.

At the time this article was published, it appears Congress is not much closer to a deal on the budget, or on the debt ceiling. In comments during his report, Superintendent Jon Felske remained hopeful that there would not be reductions in funding if things get “long and protracted” in the federal budget deliberations.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst