The executive directors of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, the Michigan Association of School Boards, and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, today released the following statement calling on the legislature to take action to ensure that Michigan schools can operate safely and efficiently in the 2020-21 school year.
“As we all know, Michiganders are being asked to mask-up and maintain social distancing in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And while we can appreciate the legislature leading by example – in this instance – by canceling committee hearings and session, the timing couldn’t be any worse. Staff at our ISDs and RESAs, districts, and individual school buildings across the state are still hard at work every day making plans to continue the essential service of educating our 1.5 million students, and they need answers and direction.
Planning for the fall is already difficult enough in these unprecedented times, but without a budget nor any clear idea of how many pupils will be enrolled sets school districts up for failure. We recognize there’s no silver bullet or single change that will allow districts to continue to provide rigorous instruction while their operating models change. However, there are three specific actions lawmakers can and should take now that would give districts some much-needed stability heading into the coming year:
- Local district funding should not be reduced because of changes in pupil enrollment due to COVID-19. We request that the legislature make the necessary changes in law to allow districts to use their pupil membership count from the previous fiscal year.
- Despite the best efforts of our districts, the reality is that many parents may choose not to send their children to school this year. What’s more, that many districts are considering alternative schedule structures that will drastically limit the number of students attending school in person at any one time. The law needs to be revised to remove the 75% attendance threshold in existing statute to reflect the current situation schools are facing.
- Considering current circumstances, districts need flexibility to find innovative ways to educate their students. Many districts are pursuing alternative schedule structures or non-traditional instructional methods in order to ensure learning continues while protecting the health of their students and staff. They should not face penalties because of it.
Time is of the essence and swift action is needed to bring our state’s laws in step with our current reality and needs. Michigan students, parents, and schools need and deserve some certainty as they finalize plans for the coming school year. And if action doesn’t come from the legislature soon, then we look to Governor Whitmer or State Superintendent Rice to use the powers at their disposal and make a move.”