William Drake (left), assistant to Rep. George Darany, and Laura Parsons (right), Dearborn Parent Teacher Student Advocacy Council Secretary, meet Tuesday to talk about the impact of proposed state budget cuts to Dearborn Public Schools.
By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – About 50 Dearborn Public Schools residents went to Lansing April 12 to protest Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed cuts to education.
Assistant Supt. Ronald Gutkowski said the protest was organized about 10 days ago by the Parent Teacher Student Advocacy group, headed by Collete Dunsome.
“They all came together to express their concern for the education in Dearborn,” Gutkowski said.
Dunsome said the group, which included parents and teachers, met with state Sen. Morris Hood III (D-Detroit) and state Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn).
“I think it went well,” she said. Some members of the group left together for Lansing from the Administrative Service Center and were joined later by others who went on their own.
Darany said education is critical.
“(The schools) need to have the money in the budget,” he said, adding that it’s important to keep the pressure on legislators, because the message sometimes gets through.
“We saw it with the firefighters and the police,” Darany said, referring to members of those groups from across the state who went to Lansing in February protesting proposed changes that they said would have affected their labor negotiations.
“If we speak loudly enough, people will start to take notice.”
Dunsome said the Dearborn group also was hoping to meet with Snyder. She said they were able to get into his office, but that he couldn’t make the meeting. The group had faxed the governor a letter last Wednesday inviting him to visit the district.
Gutkowski agreed with Dunsome that Tuesday’s meetings went well, and that Hood and Darany are on their side. Gutkowski said the district has been subject to disproportionate funding cuts.
“We were cut last year over $10 million in the per pupil allotment and some bilingual category funding,” he said. “We got hit twice.”
Bilingual category funding is money allocated for speakers of any language. Dearborn public schools expect to lose $430,000 from next year’s budget.
He said Dearborn officials hope the state will allocate more Category 31 aid money. That funding is used to help students who meet what are deemed “at-risk” criteria, including low Michigan Educational Assessment Program scores in math, reading or science.
Gutkowski said it was important for the Dearborn group to meet with Snyder when it did because the governor will be releasing a revised budget later this month, and members wanted to be heard.
At the April 11 Board of Education meeting, Supt. Brian Whiston thanked the group for its efforts.
“We certainly appreciate the parents who are going and taking the message to Lansing,” he said.