State superintendent signs off on Buena Vista schools plan - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

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State superintendent signs off, Buena Vista schools could re-open Friday

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has approved the release of state school aid funds to the Buena Vista school district, allowing students to return to their normal classrooms for the reminder of the school year.

The Buena Vista school board on Tuesday night adopted a viable deficit elimination plan that Flanagan was able to agree with and paves the way for the district to re-open its doors.

The district hasn't held class since May 3 because it ran out of money to pay its teachers.

"Now, I encourage the local school board, administration, and staff to get the schools open as soon as possible for the students," Flanagan said.

Flanagan's approval Wednesday will put an end to any discussion of a "Plan B" camp that was developed earlier in the week to have Buena Vista students learn in an alternate setting, using federal and at-risk funds.

The so-called Enhancement Skills Camp would have focused instruction on math, reading, and writing for students, if the district had not been able to adopt an approvable deficit elimination plan.

"The skills camp always was a back-up plan," said Flanagan. "Our first priority was to re-open the traditional classroom programs, but if the local school board hadn't adopted an approvable DEP, we wanted to still find ways to provide instruction to the students. That back-up plan won't be needed now."

Buena Vista schools will continue to be open for students to receive free school meals, with the assistance from the neighboring Saginaw City Schools. Today's meal will be available at Buena Vista High School from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The district will hold a special board meeting Thursday and it could decide just when students in the district will return to class. That meeting is at the Central Office Administration building at 705 North Towerline Road in Saginaw. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

Superintendent Deborah Hunter-Harvill says the district could re-open Friday. But if it doesn't, classes would resume on Monday.

The Michigan Department of Education said it will release state aid funds to Buena Vista beginning with the regularly scheduled state aid payment date on May 20. That will allow the district to meet its May 24 payroll.

A special condition that Flanagan put on his approval of the deficit elimination plan is that Michigan Department of Education will manage the release of the state aid funds due to the district for May, June, and July, so as to allow Buena Vista to meet its payroll and other essential services.  The MDE and the district are working closely together to determine what those amounts will be.

Following the announcement, Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Mich) issued this statement:

"I am pleased to see that the State of Michigan will release state aid payments to the Buena Vista School District. This is certainly a promising development and it is my hope that the kids and teachers will immediately return to their classrooms and finish their school year."

The school district is asking that people contact their office if you would like a student instructional packet. Call 989-755-2184 or email them at hunterk@bvsd.us. When sending an email request the grade level of your interest (K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12). If you need the packet delivered, please leave your name and address.

Meanwhile, The saga within the school district isn't over just yet. Deborah Hunter-Harvill says an emergency financial manager could still be appointed for the district. That decision could come in just a couple of months.

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