Grand Rapids Public Schools’ budget suffers due to state uncertainty, federal cuts

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 22:38:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Public School Board heard the proposed school budget for the first time Monday evening. It’s six million dollars less than budgeted for the last fiscal year, largely because of federal cuts to Title program funding, as well as uncertainty with the state budget.

Governor Whitmer has proposed increased state funding per student. But for GRPS, like many other public schools in Michigan, because they are hit by federal cuts as well, the potential additional state funding doesn’t add much to the overall pot.

“By and large we are optimistic about the budget. We’re hopeful we’ll see some more out of Lansing, but we also had to make some adjustments, including chewing into our fund balance, to offset this deficit,” said John Helmholdt, Communications Director for GRPS.

That means GRPS is having to dip into their reserve funds in order to make up the difference. The state requires schools to keep 5% of the total amount of money they have to spend in a sort of “savings” account. In previous years, GRPS has had around 6-8 percent left over at the end of the year.

Under the current projected budget proposal, they would have about 5.2% left over. It’s cutting it dangerously close, but it’s what has to be done in order to keep programs going for students in GRPS.

“They (students) should have little to no impact. We will make those adjustments, from a staffing standpoint, from a staffing standpoint, to adjust to the needs of the kids,” Helmholdt said.

As for the lack of funds, the school says they don’t plan any layoffs at this time. However, they may be unable to fill open staffing positions.