Michigan school closures signal wider problems

Matthew Zalaznick's picture
Monday, May 20, 2013

The closure of the Buena Vista School District should be viewed as a canary in the coal mine. Early coal mines had poor ventilation systems and since canaries are sensitive to gases, they would detect danger long before it became fatal to miners.

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr earlier this week released his draft overview of the neglected problems in the city of Detroit. There are parallels between Detroit and the unsustainable nature of school funding as I pointed out in my 2004 Report: "Structural Funding Issues Facing Michigan Schools in the 21st Century."

This latest school funding crisis stems from the Buena Vista, 420-student school district. It is having three months of state aid payments withheld by the Michigan Department of Education because “the district took $401,962.51 to educate students from the Wolverine Secure Treatment Center who no longer attend the district.” It will be determined whether this was an honest mistake or a purposeful misapplication of funds.

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