Saline Area Schools Gets Over $1 Million In Stimulus Funds

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Democrats and Republicans in Lansing came to an agreement to disperse a one time package of $4.4 billion of stimulus funds to local school districts across Michigan. For Saline, this means that the Board of Education will have over a million dollars in extra money to stabilize its budget.

Saline Area Schools has long maintained that it is fiscally stable at the present. But long term budget problems will have to be delt with in coming years as older teachers and staff begin to retire, new teachers will need to be hired and the question of how many students choose to go to Saline – and therefore, or course, how much money the district will be able to count on – will be a long term challenge for the current Superintendent and Board.

“This is a significant budget supporting those who invest in the lives of our young people,” Representative Brad Paquette (Republican – Niles) said in a press release from Governor Whitmer’s office. “The bipartisan work done here is just the first step towards even more future transformational positive change within our education system.”

These funds originated through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief stimulus money released by the federal government, a component of $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan stimulus package, passed last spring.

"We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the type of investment in our schools that will put Michigan students and educators first as they head into the next school year," Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said in the July 7 press release. "Our actions today prove that Republicans and Democrats in Lansing can work together to enact budgets that are laser-focused on helping Michigan take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunity we have right now to make transformative investments in our schools that will have positive impacts for generations."

According to the district, this Saline Superintendent Steve Laatsch estimates that the district will get $396,000 in ESSER II and then $830,000 in ESSER III later. How much money each district gets will be determined by their Title 1 Part A allocation, according to Whitmer’s press release.

“Though a lesser allocation than our peer districts, these federal funds will give Saline flexibility as we look into a new year. We will identify our greatest needs and continue to provide our students with an excellent educational experience. Because these are federal funds, they do come with specific stipulations and will first need to flow through the Michigan Department of Education and their grant approval process,” Laatsch told the Sun Times News in a statement.

What the Board of Education will choose to do with the new money has yet to be decided. Saline went for a hybrid learning structure during the Coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus money from Washington is intended to help bridge the fiscal gap created in municipalities across the country as they transition out of the economic crisis that accompanied the pandemic that has killed at least 600,000 Americans.

The press release when on to say that this money will be available for the district to use for safely reopening, filling any financial gaps and to fund programs designed to address “students’ social, emotional, mental health and academic needs resulting from the pandemic.”

“I’m very pleased to see a bipartisan acknowledgment of the importance of public education. Students and staff in America’s schools should be prioritized,” Saline School Board President Jennifer Steben said in a statement.

Image Credit: Scot Graden

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