By Carol Stiffler
Five regional school superintendents will meet with Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, Jan. 8, when she hosts a ceremonial signing for the supplemental funding bills she signed two weeks ago. The supplemental bills restored $573.5 million in funding in various areas, including the rural and isolated school districts of Whitefish Township, Burt Township, DeTour, Mackinac Island, and Beaver Island.
Whitmer invited the superintendents from those five school districts to the ceremonial signing, and they’ve all agreed to go. Whitmer vetoed the funding for rural and isolated school districts on Sept. 30, 2019, along with 146 other line item vetoes that sent shock waves across the state. Whitefish Township Schools lost $216,000, or 16% of its funding; Burt Township Schools lost $221,000, or 23% of their funding. They were in jeopardy of closing.
“We spearheaded a lot of the letters and the call for action,” said Tom McKee, superintendent of Whitefish Township Schools in Paradise. “We battled for it and we’re excited that it went through, along with other things.”
McKee said there will be no hard feelings at the meeting, but he does have a message to get across.
“We understand that at times there are hard decisions that have to be made,” he said. “Especially us, being in superintendent roles. But it’s not appropriate to use children from our area as their pawns.”
When all else fails, he said, do what’s best for the kids.
“That’s the message we conveyed the whole time, and what we’re going to continue to convey,” said McKee, whose district currently has 56 students.
The five superintendents will meet with the governor’s educational team first on Jan. 8. After, they’ll spend 90 minutes with Whitmer for the signing and a question-answer session.
McKee invited anyone who has an education-related question for the governor to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to call the Whitefish Township School at 906-492-33