Working Towards Next Year’s Budget, Muskegon Heights Public Schools Deliberates Tough Choices

Andrew Trzaska | June 14, 2011

To cut special education, or to not cut special education?

That is one of the many questions facing Muskegon Heights Public Schools as it prepares its budget for the coming year.
District Superintendent Dr. Dana Bryant noted the unique catch-22 that the district is in concerning its budget obligations for the coming year

In the example he provided at Monday’s school board meeting concerning special education, districts across the state are required to have certain numbers of special education staff on hand.

Muskegon Heights currently has 10 vacancies in its special education department – this amounts to about $900,000 in funds that could come from the state government if these positions are filled.

Bryant described the pickle placed on the district: cut the positions and comply with the deficit reduction plan required by the state, or fill the positions to meet state requirements concerning special ed staffing.

“We need to get as close to a balanced budget as possible: do we fund those positions and be out of compliance [with the deficit reduction plan] or do we not fund them and be out of compliance with special ed?” questioned Bryant during his Superintendent report during Monday’s meeting.

Bryant noted that he has been working with area legislators to get the Michigan Department of Education to work with the district, but not much ground has been made.

He expressed frustration with partisanship in Lansing and the combination of continued cuts but new requirements handed down by the state as well.

Bryant noted he would continue to work on setting up meetings with state, but could not give a timeline based on his experiences thus far.

At Monday’s board work session, several members of the board applauded the work of Dr. Bryant and the other administrative staff in the district, and recognized the minimal staffing that exists district-wide.

The state congressional representatives for Muskegon Heights:

State Senate: Geoff Hansen:

(517) 373-1635

SenGHansen@senate.michigan.gov

92nd State House: Marcia Hovey-Wright:

(517) 373-2646

marciahoveywright@house.mi.gov

Andrew Trzaska

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