EPS: Budget issues not likely to change
EVART — It would be hard to say the 2011 calendar year in the Evart Public Schools district was a good one.
It is also hard to expect 2012 will be much different.
EPS superintendent Howard Hyde says he never expected the state of public education would ever sink to the level to which it has over the past few years.
And the problems aren’t even close to being over just yet.
“This past year has been a tough one,” said Hyde.
“We were forced to make some hard decisions over the past summer. Making decisions that negatively affect people’s lives is never fun, and never easy.
“Unfortunately, things simply aren’t going to get better in the year to come.”
It’s all about money.
Budget issues facing school district around the state reached a peak this year.
With drooping student population numbers, and continuing budgetary hacking and slashing in Lansing, the money simply isn’t available to fund public education as it once was.
“We aren’t getting funding. Certainly not enough to do the job we are being asked to do well,” said Hyde. “That’s all there is to it.
“Despite all the creative book-keeping being done in Lansing, we aren’t getting the funding they say we are.
“After a summer of making tough decisions that adversely affect people’s lives and the life of this community, I expect we will need to make more such decisions in months to come.”
Hyde was very up-front in his criticism of the present administration in Lansing.
“I don’t expect them to shock us with any new funding resources,” he said. “They won’t be doing anything to help us improve the situation.
“Frankly, I actually think that part of their goal is to make public education look bad.
“Sometimes I think folks working in public education are being set up to fail.
“All our politicians claim public education is a high priority with them.
“I’m not convinced that is true.
“They surely haven’t shown me that is true.”
Despite the disappointment with the political process, and despite the tough times experienced in the 2011 calendar year, Hyde notes he doesn’t necessarily believe public education has hit rock bottom.
There is, he believes, more to come.
“To make things better for our district, we need to either gain a lot in student numbers, or we need to get substantial increases in educational funding,” he pointed out.
“I don’t expect either to happen in the near or distant future.
“Honestly, I’m not very hopeful.”
Evart planners will be considering more cuts - in both personnel and programs.
A couple of key votes coming up on the election calendar will certainly impact the situation.
One is the Headley restoration. The other is an Intermediate School District enhancement millage.
“Our expenses and our operating costs are going up,” said Hyde.
“We need support from the public in keeping our operations functioning.”
The superintendent reported that there was nothing that was “off the table” when it came to budget cutting possibilities.
Transportation. Athletics. Staffing.
Everything is up for review.
“When I started out in education, I never dreamed of the day when we would be in a situation in which everything and anything could be cut and eliminated,” said Hyde.
“Today, there is nothing sacred - certainly not in public education.
“Looking to the future — to the 2012 calendar year — things aren’t going to be much different for us.
“The situation is depressing.
“But ... at the same time our staff and kids are doing the best they can under the circumstances.
“The only thing we can really do is continue doing the best we can — no matter what is handed us.
“We need to figure out how to make this work, despite the fact that there are people in this state who are simply waiting for public education to fail.”