The Grand Rapids School Board on Monday approved a joint fundraising agreement with the Public Museum to raise $4.8 million for renovations to the new Museum School. The Museum School opened this year with 60 sixth-graders. The program will add a grade each year until 12th grade.
How did it come to this? Among the many culprits, real or perceived, are recalcitrant unions, inept administrators, feckless politicians and self-interested bankers. But, in the end, the simple answer is this: too much debt. The budget math is sobering. Since 2007, actual district spending has soared by more than a third, even as enrollment has fallen 4 percent.
By the end of the school year, in late June, the Chicago school district will have just $24 million in cash—enough to support two days of operations. Without a fresh infusion, next year’s budget will include devastating cuts of thousands of positions. It has already started preparing principals for the possibility that their budgets could be cut by more than 20 percent without state aid. Perhaps the biggest tragedy of all: The slow-moving debacle, decades in the making, was also foreseeable to some extent, observers say.
The walkout was yet another troubling episode for a long-beleaguered school district that is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and behind on payments to its retirement system. It was also another reminder of how the destiny of schools is guided by shifting demographics, the growing charter-school sector and poor economics, though Detroit is an extreme example.
Charter schools receive more cash per pupil because they don’t receive some services from the central office that traditional schools do. More than a dozen charter schools are suing the district for failing to follow the state-mandated funding formula that could provide more money.