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Write Your Legislators
Linda Mah
/ Categories: Communications

Write Your Legislators

Community Can Help Lobby Legislators on School Funding

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically reduced state and local revenue and placed enormous pressure on the state budget, the School Aid Fund is predicted to be more than $1 billion below previous estimates for the next two years. As a result of this state shortfall, the foundation allowance that KPS receives for each student could be cut by as much as $650, resulting in a loss of approximately $8 million for the current school year and for the 2020-21 school year.

We need your help seeking support for public school funding. These are some steps you can take:

  • Lobby our federal congressional delegation to provide additional funding for public education in Michigan. A sample letter is below.

  • Remind policy makers that our children didn’t decide to be students during the coronavirus pandemic. They deserve federal financial support to protect programs and services that are critical to their futures.

  • Funding for schools is based on enrollment. We want to enroll students in KPS. Talk to your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Encourage them to enroll their students in KPS.

  • Spread our positive news on social media. You can find us on Facebook @KalamazooPublicSchools and on Twitter @KPSschools.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous uncertainty as to how to provide quality education for students while maintaining safe conditions for both staff and students. School districts face new expenses and challenges for the upcoming school year, including: providing personal protective equipment; creating new health screening procedures; increasing cleaning costs; reorganizing learning spaces to accommodate social distancing; and expanding access to school-based mental health services. At the May 28 Board of Education meeting, KPS trustees unanimously approved a resolution calling on the federal government to provide additional financial support to schools during this state of emergency.

A preliminary 2020-21 budget will be presented at the Board of Education meeting on June 18. On June 25, there will be a public budget hearing with the Board of Education at 6:45 p.m. to allow for additional comments on the proposed budget. The Board of Education will be asked to approve the budget at their regular meeting which begins at 7 p.m. on June 25. Both the budget hearing and regular meeting will be held electronically. A link to a sign-up sheet for speakers and a link to the livestream of the meeting will be posted at www.kalamazoopublicschools.com. Written suggestions may be sent to communications@kalamazoopublicschools.net.

Contact information for state and federal legislators:

FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES

Congressman Fred Upton

2183 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

(202) 225-3761

https://upton.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm

 

Senator Debbie Stabenow

731 Hart Senator Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-2204

(202) 224-4822

https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/contact

 

Senator Gary Peters

724 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

(202) 224-6221

https://www.peters.senate.gov/contact/email-gary

 

Copies of the letter may also be sent to our state representatives:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

P.O. Box 30013

Lansing, MI 48909 

517-373-3400

 

Senator Sean McCann (Senate district 20) 

Post Office Box 30036

Lansing, MI 48909

517-373-5100

sensmccann@senate.michigan.gov

Rep. Jon Hoadley (House district 60: Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township)

P.O. Box 30014

Lansing, MI 48909-7514

517-373-1785

JonHoadley@house.mi.gov

 

Rep. Brandt Iden (House district 61; Oshtemo and Texas townships)

P.O. Box 30014

Lansing, MI 48909

(517) 373-1774

BrandtIden@house.mi.go

A sample letter (also included below as a PDF):

Dear Senator Stabenow, Senator Peters and Congressman Upton,

With the closure of schools in March, the move to “distance learning” has presented students, families, teachers, and school officials with numerous challenges. The significant proposed reductions to school funding from the state for both the current school year and next school year would only add to these challenges. This is coming at a time when schools are going to need more funds to provide quality instruction for students, mental health support, and supplies to keep everyone safe.

Despite these ongoing challenges trying to complete the school year during COVID-19, Kalamazoo Public Schools has risen to the occasion. Our administrators and staff have adjusted to this new reality and tackled the challenges with dedication and desire. They have served over 700,000 meals to students to date and provided instructional opportunities for all students.

One challenge we cannot overcome without your help is funding. The recent Michigan Revenue

Estimating Conference confirmed our fears; state and local budgets have been decimated due to the pandemic. Revenue deficits are in the billions and we cannot, as a school district, cut our way out. Kalamazoo Public Schools may see a reduction of $9 million for the school year we have not yet finished. Without immediate assistance, services to children will need to be reduced and our students will continue to pay the price.

Although we appreciate the financial assistance the federal government has provided to date, the budget crisis created by COVID-19 has already exceeded this assistance.

On behalf of the students, families, and staff in Kalamazoo Public Schools, I urge you to provide financial relief to our state and local budgets in two ways. First, amend the current CARES Act to allow for maximum flexibility for states to properly fund important state programs. Second, immediately begin work on the next CARES Act to ensure our families remain safe and healthy and to jump start our economy.

We appreciate your leadership on this critical matter for our children.

Sincerely,

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