In the Buena Vista school district, teachers are back in the business of teaching and students are back in the business of learning for the first time in two weeks.
It has been two weeks since the Buena Vista school board laid off all but three staff members and closed down the schools, because there was just no money to keep things running.
It took a new deficit-elimination plan and the state releasing three months of state aid that had been withheld to recoup funding for a program for incarcerated youth. The district had stopped running the program, but had not notified Lansing.
It's convoluted and confusing, but in all of these news stories and headlines there is one crystal-clear reality: students are suffering.
So are their teachers, who actually offered to work without pay.
One of those teachers was Tory Jackson, the coach of high school men’s basketball. He is also a former student of Buena Vista. Jackson says he had other opportunities in the professional basketball world.
"Everybody asks the same question, 'Why did you come back? Why did you turn down so much money to come back and deal with this uncertainty?' But I do it for the kids. I honestly feel like there's a lot of potential in Saginaw, and I hate seeing so many youth killing each other or reverting to the streets because nobody's actually taken the time with them," he said. "I want to show them that somebody cares."
Students were working toward graduating or moving on to the next grade when things shut down. Now the school doors have reopened for them to finish the year.
"We're in a better position now than we were two or three weeks ago. We got the help. Now we've just got to put certain plans together," he said. "Ultimately the kids will win out. Education is the most important, and I feel like everything should be fine in a year or two. We should be running perfectly again."
Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with coach Tory Jackson today.
To hear the full interview, click the link above.