Dillon, Schmidt: Restore GRPS Funding, Protect School Aid Fund

State cuts force Grand Rapids Public Schools to cut 136 positions, close buildings
Monday, June 27, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS - Standing alongside parents, teachers and school officials, State Representatives Brandon Dillon (Grand Rapids) and Roy Schmidt (Grand Rapids) today called on Governor Snyder and legislative Republicans to restore the devastating budget cuts to Michigan’s schools and protect the state’s School Aid Fund from unnecessary raids in the future.

“Until school starts, the Governor and Republicans still have time to fix the terrible hand they’ve dealt our children,” said Dillon. “We are again calling on Republicans to give us a seat at the table and work with us to find a solution that restores funding to our schools and does not set this current funding level as the new norm. Grand Rapids, like districts across the state, is now looking at firing teachers and shutting down schools to finance the Governor’s corporate tax cuts.”

Legislative Republicans and Governor Snyder rushed through a state budget that raided hundreds of millions of dollars from the School Aid Fund to subsidize an 82 percent tax break for corporations, resulting in a $470 per-pupil cut. Considering that the School Aid Fund had a $900 million surplus, the severe cuts were completely unnecessary. As school districts finalize their budgets for the upcoming year, we are seeing what impact these cuts, the largest in two decades, will have on the classrooms and the quality of our children’s education.

The state budget cost Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) $4.6 million in funding, according to the nonpartisan House and Senate Fiscal Agencies. These cuts have forced GRPS to pass a budget that:

  • Lays off 136 employees including administrative, faculty, support staff and service positions.
  • Closes four buildings, including the Southwest Academic Center.
  • Consolidates adult education, making it harder for residents to further their educations and careers.

“The Republicans and the Governor simply value corporations over kids,” Schmidt said. “They have ignored the cries from the people at town halls and rallies across the state that opposed these unnecessary cuts. At this point the state is putting more individual funding towards prisoners than our own children. This is not the kind of message we should be sending to the residents of our state and job creators looking at Michigan to start or expand their businesses.”

Dillon and Schmidt also encourage residents to visit www.fightschoolcuts.com and sign a petition to help rally support for our kids, as well as tell their story about how these education cuts will affect their children and their local schools.