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APS: Whitmer cuts cost district $500K

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools could lose up to $500,000 this year because of state cuts, Superintendent John VanWagoner said Monday.

VanWagoner said during Monday’s Board of Education meeting that the district suffered cuts as part of nearly $1 billion in line-item vetoes Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made to the 2020 state budget.

Nearly $130 million was vetoed from the State School Aid budget by Whitmer.

“It affected us pretty good in a negative way,” VanWagoner said. “Somewhere between a quarter of a million and half a million dollars is what we lost, most of which we planned in our budget.”

The district lost money the state typical pays to isolated districts that have fewer than six students per square mile. That’s a loss of $180,000 the district budgeted for, VanWagoner said.

The district also lost money the state pays for students who participate in the Alpena High School Career and Technical Education program, which is $50 for every CTE student the district has.

Another cut for the district was to the Imagine Math/Literacy program, which supports students who are struggling in either subject. Other cuts came from veteos related to computer adaptive tests, summer literacy, and local produce for school meals.

“All of the cuts were geared toward northern Michigan, because key legislators who handle those budgets are from northern Michigan,” VanWagoner said. “Many, many, many of us across northern Michigan districts were affected by these categoricals.”

Whitmer, a Democrat, made the cuts after the Republican-controlled Legislature sent her a budget she called “a mess,” much of which she said was unenforcable. Budget negotiations between Whitmer and Republican lawmakers broke down last month after lawmakers rejected her proposal for a 45-cents-per-gallon gas tax hike to pay for roads.

Lawmakers have introduced bills to restore programs affected by many of Whitmer’s vetoes.

Looking forward, VanWagoner said he isn’t sure what’s going to happen with the state budget, but he does know that something has to happen quick.

VanWagoner said, for example, the district was told by the Michigan State Police during bus inspections earlier this month that, next year, the district could have five buses red-tagged, meaning the buses wouldn’t be allowed on the road until fixed.

“That’s $400,000 to $450,000 in buses that we don’t have, we don’t really have the money to buy really one, and then, next year, all of a sudden we’re five short,” he said. “We’re going to keep pushing.”

In other business

The Alpena Public Schools Board of Education on Monday also approved:

∫ an Alpena High School art club.

∫ a request to the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan for $40,000 from the Granum Family Alpena Board of Education Fund for an Alpena High School athletic field upgrade project.

∫ three-year snow plowing and snow removal contracts to Alpena Lawn Care for estimated $330 per plow event, Brown Construction for an estimated $467 per plow event, and Leavesley Construction for an estimated $1,397.50 per plow event.