By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Buena Vista School officials meet with community members Tuesday night.
BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP, MI (WNEM) -
Parents were frustrated and angered after meeting with officials about a local district's financial meltdown Tuesday night.
Buena Vista Schools has run out of money and laid off their teachers. Classes have been canceled again Wednesday, and parents are demanding answers.
"I'm not going to say things that I think may eventually hurt the district; therefore, I'm legally bound with what I can say," said Buena Vista School District Superintendent Deborah Hunter-Harvill.
Parents left Tuesday night with a lot of lingering questions, many about the future of the students. Emotions and disbelief outlined the meeting as Hunter-Harvill and Buena Vista School Board President Randy Jackson answered what they could.
"I'd be out there taking collections to make sure my kids are getting an education," said one disgruntled parent.
"Somebody needs to help our kids for 30 days. Thirty days, that's all we're asking for," said another mad parent.
But it appears the help is far from coming. Tuesday night, parents heard the hardships the district faces, but as parents and students waited for answers, they never came.
"I don't think we got nowhere. I don't think we knew anymore than we did when we got here," said Dede Waferlong, who has children in the district.
"What are we going to do on Thursday, Friday, next week, the following week, you know?" said parent Sandra Gonzales.
School will remain closed Wednesday. Teachers learned on Tuesday, a day after they were laid off, it's in their best interest to not come back. Teachers were told not to talk, but one felt compelled to speak out, so we agreed to hide her identity.
"It breaks all of our hearts because we want to be back in the classroom, back in the building, and be with the students," said the teacher.
Students want that, too.
"The only thing is us students coming to school. We have overcame many challenges just having the thought of graduation at the end, and then it went crashing," said Buena Vista senior Lorenzo Caldwell.
"I've had problems through high school, but I've turned it around now, and I really want to graduate. It means a lot to me," said senior Tyrell Bridgewater.
But right now, the future seems in doubt.
"What are the backup plans?" TV5 asked Superintendent Hunter-Harvill.
"I've given you all I can give you, but I'm thankful you are here," was Hunter-Harvill's response.
Some parents TV5 spoke with Tuesday night said they're trying to take matters into their own hands. They've tried to enroll their children in other local schools, but say because it's so late in the year, they've been denied.
Hunter-Harvill said she plans to meet with the Saginaw Intermediate School District tomorrow and speak to other local superintendents to try to get students finished with this school year.
There's no word on whether the district will reopen on Thursday.
Here's a look at how the situation got to this point. The state was funding the Wolverine Treatment Center even though the district didn't provide any teachers. In response, the state has stopped sending aid for April, May, and June.
As a result, the district laid off its teachers immediately and cancelled class.
We will continue to follow the financial crisis at Buena Vista Schools on air, online, and on your mobile device.
Click on the video above to see the full report and also the raw footage from Tuesday night's special meeting.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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