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Rep. Lightner: Legislature approves bipartisan back-to-school plan
RELEASE|August 17, 2020

Rep. Sarah Lightner today voted in favor of a back-to-school plan to help ensure the successful education of our kids, while keeping student and teacher health and safety in the highest regard.

The legislation includes parental and community involvement in decision-making, as well as increased financial resources for districts.

“This bipartisan agreement provides an avenue for local communities, parents, and the medical community to collaborate on the safe operation of our schools,” said Lightner, of Springport. “I am pleased to support a plan that emphasizes local control while providing certainty, safety and stable funding for schools.”

The legislation will allow local school districts to determine the best course of action for their own students and families. In-person attendance is not state-mandated at any grade level, but it’s strongly encouraged for grades K-5 when it can be done safely. The plan also includes oversight measures to keep learning on track whether it’s done in-person, online or through a combination of both.

School boards will be required to reexamine and recertify how they are delivering instruction to students at their monthly board meetings for the duration of the 2020-21 school year – an important requirement to give parents a chance to weigh in regularly. Benchmark assessments will provide detailed information to parents and teachers about where a student needs additional help to ensure they stay on track.

The plan also includes financial support. The Legislature previously approved a total of $583 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to be dedicated to Michigan schools, including an additional $350 per student across the board, ensuring schools have the resources they need. The funding includes more than $50 million in hazard pay for educators who have been flexible and innovative during the COVID-19 pandemic, and $18 million for safety measures and benchmark assessments.

“Adequately funding our schools is of the utmost importance, especially as we examine the new normal that the COVID-19 crisis has presented,” said Lightner. “Our educators and school staff need to be sure that they have the resources they need to provide the good quality education that our kids deserve.”

The plan now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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