School leaders react to governor’s State of State speech

Published 9:16 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

Although the majority of Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State speech Tuesday focused on the water crisis in Flint, the governor devoted a few minutes to addressing some of the state’s issues in public education.

Snyder announced he would create a commission on 21st Century education to identify ways to improve the structure, governance and funding of state schools.

They would do this, in part, by examining the results of two studies being done on education funding and career-technical education.

He said he wants the commission to deliver their recommendations by the end of November with the long-term goal of making Michigan one of the top 10 school systems in the nation within the next 10 years.

Niles Community Schools Supt. Dan Applegate said he is looking forward to seeing the commission’s findings.

“I am curious what the outcome of that will be and the impact it will have once that study is done,” he said. “I’m sure there will be takeaways.”

Brandywine Community Schools Supt. John Jarpe said he’s interested in what the commission comes up with, including its take on school funding.

“I think the way we get money from the state deserves some examination,” Jarpe said. “We need to look at some alternatives, something that is sustainable and reliable. Sometimes it is a guessing game as to what the budget is going to be.”

Buchanan Supt. Andrea van der Laan said she is encouraged by the governor’s decision to create the commission.

“Every year we are trying to figure out ways to make sure teachers have resources they need to teach our students. In addition, our state funding is also used for buses, technology, capital repairs, heating, etc.,” she said. “Our expenditures continue to rise, but our school funding has not kept up. There are several districts in the state that are now having difficulty with their budgets.”