State owes schools a timely budget

In recent weeks, schools across Michigan have started approving their budgets for the next fiscal year, because the law says they have to do so by July 1.

The law also says school boards and superintendents must pass a balanced budget, meaning they must plan for every bill and payroll check until June 30, 2020.

The problem is, schools get almost all of their money from the state, whose budget year doesn’t begin until Oct. 1. And lawmakers sometimes wait until the very end to tell schools how much money they’re going to get.

That’s a bit like being forced to plan out your household expenses for the entire year without knowing what your salary will be.

If you were thrown in that situation, naturually you’d budget conservatively, canceling the cable, eating out less often, buying your dog the cheaper kibbles, etc., because it’s better to spend too little and end up pleasantly surprised than the other way around.

Schools are doing the same, handing out pink slips and cutting programs and holding off on needed investments until officials know how much money they’re going to get.

That shouldn’t be the case.

Teachers shouldn’t have to wonder if they’ll have a job and families shouldn’t have to wonder if the programs they count on will be there.

We know there’s a Democrat in the governor’s office and Republicans control the Capitol, but they owe it to our schools to work together and give superintendents and school boards a timely budget.