Buena Vista school board approves layoffs, budget amid uncertainty

The Buena Vista school board is planning for next year, although itâ??s still uncertain whether the district will operate.

During Tuesdayâ??s special board meeting, the board approved the districtâ??s 2013-2014 budget that calls for eight general fund teachers and housing all students in one building.

"That budget reflects us being in deficit at the end of this year, and reflecting that we will be $40,000 less in that deficit at the end of next year," school board president Randy Jackson said.

Right now, the district does not have the funds to open in September. Buena Vista schools have been operating on state funds that were released after the district ran out of money for payroll in May.

The board voted Tuesday to layoff five staff members, including the middle school principal. The board also agreed to apply for a $2.5 million loan from the state to continue operating.

In the meantime, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 no longer stands in the way of legislation Michigan lawmakers passed to dissolve deficit-ridden schools.

The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday struck down a key part of the act, which requires certain states and communities to get federal permission before making any changes that would affect voting or elected boards, including school boards.

Democratic Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes (D-Saginaw) had previously argued that dissolving Buena Vista Schools violated the Voting Rights Act, because Buena Vista is one of two Michigan communities covered under the 1965 act.

Superintendent Dr. Deborah Hunter-Harvill said, â??You know that I'm disappointed because that was like an extra piece for us to kind of lean on."

â??The governor will not have to worry about a pre-clearance from the Department of justice, the school district could be dissolved with no impact from the Voting Rights Act,â?? Erwin Oakes said.

The school dissolution bill is waiting for Gov. Snyder's signature.

The last day of school in the Buena Vista school district is Wednesday, June 26.