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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

  It is tough anytime of the year to grow grassroots but especially so in the dead of winter. Ask the state's chief gardener and chief executive Jennifer Granholm.
  She tried. She really did.  She got some school parents and administrator to flood the legislative halls.  She visited every district that would let her in trying to plant the seeds of local involvement, but when the final score was counted it was Gov's grassroots nada.
    Lawmakers made an 11th hour attempt to find more money for schools, but the effort failed as lawmakers went home for the holidays leaving the school community to ponder how it will handle a $165 cut per pupil and maybe even more in the new year.
    Her problem was two-fold:  Senate Republicans lead by Sen. Mike Bishop would not budge from their pledge to write a budget without new revenue; secondly there was no blood in the streets due to the cuts. 
    The "blood" is just now beginning to flow as one school district after another announces teacher and staff layoffs, the end of transportation, a cut back in athletics and the inevitable cuts in band and the arts. 
    Some schools will muddle through by dipping into the savings accounts, but that well will eventually go dry.  Others will try their best to keep the cuts out of the classroom but they've been doing that for years and that option becomes less likely as the cuts multiply with no end in sight.
    40 or so districts are now operating in the red and that number will surely climb as some ask, "Where will this end and will it?"
    A frustrated governor was able to place on hold another $127 cut until at least January, but the way things are going, a big chuck of that will likely be taken away from the schools as well.
    As for new revenue to restore some of the cuts? In the governor's mind, hope Springs eternal, but there are no signs of Spring around here.


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