Buena Vista School District

Politics & Government
8:53 am
Thu June 20, 2013

In this morning's news: Governor pushes Medicaid, teachers rally in capitol, GM receives top score

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Governor cuts trip short

Governor Rick Snyder will return early from his trip to Israel today in order to lobby for Medicaid expansion. Snyder will encourage fellow Republicans to pass the legislation. “Today is the last day for lawmakers to pass Medicaid expansion before their two-month summer break,” reports Jake Neher.

Teachers protest education legislation

Michigan teachers rallied in Lansing yesterday to protest legislation that would allow state officials to close struggling school districts.  According to the Associated Press, “the legislation lets the state superintendent and treasurer dissolve a district with 300 to 2,400 students if certain criteria are met.”

General Motors receives high ratings

For the first time ever, General Motors topped the Initial Quality Survey released by automotive tracking firm J.D. Power.  Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports that GM received a better score than any other corporation in the study.  She says "people are reporting very few mechanical problems.  Most automakers have drummed out serious engine and transmission defects from their cars."

Education
5:15 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

More Michigan schools running deficits, record 55 with deficits

A meeting of the Buena Vista School Board.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

To add to the woes of public education in Michigan, six new school districts are running deficits.

Forty-nine was the record, now make it 55 school districts – from the Traverse Bay Area to Wayne County – with deficits.

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says declining enrollment is the most-common issue in the deficit districts. That’s led to a loss of state funding.

Flanagan says schools do need more resources, but most are keeping their budgets balanced. The ones that don’t, he says, are a rarity.

Read more
Education
5:39 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Schools that can’t follow deficit elimination plans could be dissolved under new bill

Lucy Perkins, Mark Brush Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are working on legislation they hope will prevent another crisis like the one in the Buena Vista school district. Students there sat at home while school was closed for two weeks last month because the district couldn’t afford to pay its teachers. Buena Vista is not alone; a number of districts have had problems keeping their doors open because of financial problems this year.

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11:25 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Senior class graduates from Buena Vista after months of uncertainty

Lead in text: 
Twenty seven seniors from Buena Vista High School graduated yesterday. After the school district's difficult year and budget crisis, the graduation was a happy event for the school and community. The future of the school district remains uncertain.
BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP, MI - It was a difficult year full of hardships, but Lourenzo Caldwell says he wouldn't trade it for the world. He's a member of the 2013 graduating class at Buena Vista High School. The district's 27 seniors donned blue and white caps and gowns, crossed the stage and received their diplomas on Tuesday, June 4.
Education
6:23 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Buena Vista fails to pay teachers, after all the controversy

It was a payless payday after all, for teachers in the Buena Vista School District on Friday.

After a two-week shutdown of the district, teachers returned to the job on Monday.

State officials had said they would oversee how the troubled district spent its state aid.

David Crim is with the Michigan Education Association.

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Education
9:32 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Why Ann Arbor may lay off teachers for the first time ever

We all thought districts like Ann Arbor were safe from massive cuts. We were wrong.
Ann Arbor Public Schools http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/academics/files/pre3.jpg

In case you've been living under a rock the last couple of months, many Michigan schools are in financial crisis.

It's not just separate outbreaks. It's an epidemic. Buena Vista had to shut down for two weeks when they ran out of money to pay staff. Albion is closing its high school.

About 50 districts are on the state's financial watch list (as in, watch-out-these-guys-could-go-under).

Now, Ann Arbor, the artsy cosmopolitan Disney Land of public school systems, is feeling woozy.

Read more
Education
1:28 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

77 percent of students return to troubled Buena Vista school district

Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

The Buena Vista School District reopened on Monday after closing for two weeks due to a financial crisis. 

Of the 400 students that attended the school district before the closure, 77.5 percent have returned, according to Lindsay Knake at MLive:

Superintendent Deborah Hunter-Harvill said the there are 339 students back in school this week, including 151 students at Doerr Child Development Center, 97 students at Phoenix Science & Technology Center and 91 students at the high school.

"We have to keep working to receive high school students back," she said. 

The high school had about 160 students prior to the school closings, and is missing 40 to 50 students including the 25 graduating seniors, Hunter-Harvill said. There are 29 students missing at Doerr and 10 missing at Phoenix.

"Come back to us," Hunter-Harvill asked students at a community meeting on Tuesday, May 21. "Believe in us."

Knake also reports that five employees who were laid off were recalled:

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Politics & Culture
5:02 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Stateside for Monday, May 20th, 2013

For the first time in two weeks, teachers are back in the business of teaching and students are back in the business of learning in the Buena Vista school district near Saginaw.

That's after the district had to close school doors because it couldn't meet payroll. On today's show: just how bad are finances for school districts across the state? Could your district be next?

Michelle Richard, a senior consultant at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing, and Eric Scorsone, an economist at Michigan State University, talked with us about Michigan school finances and whether consolidation is a viable solution.

And, Buena Vista’s high school men’s basketball coach spoke about how the school is doing now that it has reopened.

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Stateside
5:00 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Consolidation is a viable option for some Michigan school districts, but not all

Is consolidation something that will work for struggling school districts?
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

An interview with Eric Scoresone, an economist at Michigan State University, and Michelle Richard, a senior consultant at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing.

Michigan schools have been in headlines for a while now: For many, the mention of Buena Vista schools instantly calls up an image of a closed public school.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Eric Scoresone, an economist at Michigan State University, and Michelle Richard, a senior consultant at Public Sector Consultants in Lansing.

One of the biggest problems for schools is receiving funding based on a per student basis, Richard said.

"There were 1,000 students at Buena Vista in 2009-2010, and now there are only 400. You can only cut so quickly and if you don't have kids in seats then you are forced to make challenging decisions."

Read more
Stateside
4:58 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Current Buena Vista teacher and former student is hopeful for the district

Tory Jackson is the men's basketball coach at Buena Vista high school.
Twitter

An interview with Tory Jackson on the future of Buena Vista.

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.

Read more
Education
10:58 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Buena Vista schools reopen, but financial future uncertain

Buena Vista's website announcing school opens today.

Students and teachers in the Buena Vista School District are back in the classroom today.

After a two-week closure of the Saginaw County district, all three schools in the district opened their doors Monday morning. To make up for lost instruction time, the school year will now end on June 21, instead of the scheduled June 13, MLive reported.

The district shut down after the state pulled some $400,000 in misappropriated funding.

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Politics & Government
7:20 am
Thu May 16, 2013

In this morning’s news: Buena Vista reopening, unemployment rate falls, school mascot complaint

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, May 16, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Buena Vista schools to reopen

Students in the Buena Vista school district will soon be heading back to the classroom. 

“The state Department of Education has approved the Buena Vista school district’s deficit elimination plan. The state will resume making aid payments, and school is expected to begin again next week for about 400 students,” Rick Pluta reports.

Unemployment rate falls and workforce grows

Michigan’s jobless rate continued to fall as 19,000 people found jobs last month, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.4% in April. The biggest gains were in the leisure, manufacturing, and health services industries while professional and business services declined. The size of the state’s workforce also grew by 2,000 people over the past year.

Department of Civil Rights faces budget cuts over mascot complaint

“The Michigan Department of Civil Rights could see its budget cut by $3 million over its stance on American Indian-themed school mascots. The department recently filed a complaint with the federal government over the mascots … Lawmakers in the state House have introduced a bill that would take money from the department and put it into a fund to help schools pay for any mascot changes,” Jake Neher reports.

Education
4:34 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Mid-year public school closings rare nationwide

The Buena Vista School Board meets.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

A public school in Michigan closing before the year ends isn't just a state story.

The Washington Post picked up on the troubles of the Buena Vista school district in a piece by Lyndsey Layton today.

Layton looks at how often these kinds of closings happen around the country:

Read more
Education
12:02 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Buena Vista schools get aid from state, doors will open today

Parents and children embrace during a Buena Vista School Board meeting.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Students at Saginaw County's Buena Vista school district may be back in the classroom soon. The state has approved the district's plan to bring itself out of debt.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has approved the release of state aid funds to the Buena Vista school district.

The district hasn't held class since May 3 because it ran out of money to pay its teachers. Last night the Buena Vista board of education approved a deficit elimination plan.

Flanagan says he is now encouraging the local school board and administration to reopen the doors as soon as possible. The state will release state aid to Buena Vista on May 20th, allowing the district to make payroll on May 24th.

The aid will put an end to any discussion of a “Plan B” that was developed earlier this week to have Buena Vista students use federal money to attend a skills camp over the summer.

The schools will be open today for those students who qualify for free meals.

Education
1:01 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Budget deficit forcing school officials to close Albion High School

Some students cried when the vote to close the high school was taken at last night's Albion School Board meeting.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Albion School Board voted last night to close the district’s high school.

Beginning this fall, the mid-Michigan district will only serve students in grades K through eight.

Some students cried.  Others just shook their heads, after the school board voted 5 to 1, with one abstention, to close Albion High School.

School board members said repeatedly they didn’t want to close the school, but a projected million dollar budget deficit could not be ignored.

Read more
Education
12:59 am
Wed May 15, 2013

There's more money in Michigan's school aid fund, but should it be spent on schools on the brink?

(file photo)
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Battle Creek State Senator Mike Nofs says he doesn’t think higher than expected revenue in the school aid fund should be used to bail out struggling school districts.

Nofs says at today’s revenue estimating conference, state officials will announce the school aid fund has nearly $100 million more than predicted.

Nofs expects there will be push to use that money to help the struggling Pontiac and Buena Vista school districts. But he says that’s not a good idea.

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Education
12:51 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Buena Vista schools approve plan, await state action

Buena Vista Superintendent Deborah Hunter-Harvill and School Board President Randy Jackson at Tuesday night's tension-filled emergency meeting.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

The Buena Vista School District unceremoniously shut down ten days ago, sending staff and students home for the year after the district ran out of money.

At Tuesday night’s emergency school board meeting there was almost universal confusion about what happens next. 

The school board unanimously approved a deficit elimination plan they hope will allow state aid payments to start up again so students can get back in the classroom. 

If that doesn't work, the board grudgingly approved a plan for a summer "skills building camp," in lieu of traditional classroom time.

Nobody at the meeting seemed very happy about that option.

Read more
Education
3:47 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Buena Vista's school year could be saved under a new plan

Parents and children embrace during a Buena Vista School Board meeting.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

An entire school district closing before the school year ends is a bit of a black eye for public education in Michigan.

Just on perception alone, you would think politicians and administrators would jump to fix the problem. Instead, as Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett pointed out, many just put up their hands.

Now, some news of movement.

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Politics & Government
7:24 am
Tue May 14, 2013

In this morning's news: a solution for BV students, an arrest at DTW, and Dave Bing's announcement

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Buena Vista could hold summer camps for students

There could be a solution for the students in Saginaw County’s Buena Vista district to finish out the school year.  A plan to use federal funds to run voluntary “skills camps” that focus on reading, math, and writing will be presented this evening to the local school board.

"The Buena Vista superintendent says it’s a creative solution that would allow students to finish out the school year," Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Man with pressure cooker arrested at Detroit Metro Airport

On Saturday Hussain al Khawahir was taken into custody at the Detroit Metro Airport. He tried to enter the US from Saudi Arabia with an altered passport, and lied to security officers about why he was carrying a pressure cooker. Al Khawahir will have a bond hearing this afternoon, reports Michigan Radio's Kate Wells.

Detroit Mayor to make announcement about future

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has scheduled an announcement for today at noon. Bing's spokesman Bob Warfield said that Bing would "make a major announcement about his political future." Today is the deadline to file for a second 4-year term as mayor, the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Culture
5:27 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Stateside for Monday, May 13th, 2013

State officials announced over the weekend that they'll lend money to Pontiac schools to avert a pay-less payday.

But, there's no resolution in Buena Vista Township where that school system abruptly shut down after running out of money. On today's show: a temperature check on school funding across Michigan - just how many districts are close to the financial edge?

And Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr joined us today. He released a report on the city's disastrous finances. The State's Emergency Manager law requires this report to be issued  45 days after Orr's appointment.

We also talk about what Marquette, Michigan is doing right. "Placemaking" is leading to efforts to create more livable, vibrant and creative communities. We wanted to find out where "placemaking" is working and how cities across Michigan could benefit. Arnold Weinfeld, the director of Strategic Initiatives at the Michigan Municipal League, joined us to talk about this effort.

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