LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The State Senate will hold a rare Saturday session to try to come up with a plan for the start of the school year.
Senate sessions have been canceled this month until now, since Senator Tom Barrett was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Schools have been making plans without knowing what the laws will be.
Right now behind the scenes the House, Senate, and the Governor’s office are working on coming to an agreement. Details are not being released.
Senator Peter Lucido (R-Macomb County) said there is debate over whether the legislature or local school boards should make decisions about in-person or virtual learning.
Schools across metro-Detroit tell WXYZ they are concerned about some of the things they have been told could happen.
“Some of the early information starting to come out deals with whether schools will be funded, whether you offer in person or not,” said Robert Livernois, Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent.
Livernois and other superintendents are concerned the state will give them less money for virtual students.
“This is not the time to make funding conditional on whether things are virtual or not,” said Livernois.
The House passed legislation last month sponsored by State Representative Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) who WXYZ interviewed earlier this week. She has been in talks with Senate leaders to come up with a deal that will pass in both the Republican-controlled Senate and House.
She did not say what the funding formula would be but said that virtual learning saves schools money on bus fuel, copies, and facility costs.
“If you add it all up, districts, there was a cost savings,” she said.
Superintendent Livernois says for every cost savings, there is another cost, from PPE to remedial services.
During a press conference, WXYZ asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan) her thoughts on whether virtual should receive less funding, as she has to approve any deal.
“With regard to funding, we need to put more resources into our education system period. Not to utilize this crisis to start to starve districts of funding if they make a choice based on what is the best health and safety of their students,” she responded.
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