Superior Central superintendent expresses concerns and challenges for schools amid the pandemic

EDEN JUNCTION — Bill Valima is the superintendent and K-12 principal for Superior Central Schools. On May 19th, he took to Facebook to detail some of the challenges schools have been facing due to the ongoing pandemic, and to express concerns for schools looking ahead to next year.

According to Valima, Michigan schools are funded on a per pupil basis. With much of the state’s economy shut down or slowed since March, that funding is projected to take a major hit.

“With the revenue not coming into the state—which I totally understand; we’ve been shut down for two months—there was talk of how much that was going to impact the School Aid budget,” said Valima. “Earlier we heard maybe 20-25%. That’s a couple thousand dollars a kid. So for us that translates to about $700,000, and that’s a lot of money, especially for a district our size. Our overall budget is about $3.5 million, so if you cut $700,000 out of that it’s hard.”

Another challenge for the upcoming school year is timing. Schools are required to turn in their budgets by June 30th, but the state budget doesn’t have to be set until October. Schools like Superior Central are experiencing much financial uncertainty moving forward.

Valima says that faculty and staff at Superior Central are doing all they can to ensure students are still receiving a quality education, meals, and other resources they need.

Schools were required to develop a Continuity of Learning Plan in a short period of time, and teachers at Superior Central came through, even going above and beyond.

“I was just thinking of everything that we’ve done and how we’ve adapted so quickly in this couple of months and just how hard our teachers have worked to make sure that kids are still being counted for,” Valima said. “We’re still checking in on kids and they’re still getting some instruction in and some learning. And we know that it’s nowhere near what we’d be doing at school if they were here, but we’re trying to meet some of their needs while we’re all at home.”

Valima’s post has quickly gained traction on Facebook, garnering more than 5,000 shares in just 24 hours, and he says he’s received mostly positive feedback.

Valima says he hopes that if anything, people will have a better understanding of what it takes to fund a school, and that people will realize teachers and staff members do much more than some might believe.

“The message that I was looking at is just that people understand how schools get funding and everything we deal with and all the things that we do,” said Valima. “Schools aren’t just reading and math; we do a lot more. We’re feeding kids, and our social worker is still reaching out to our students. We do a lot for the whole kid. It’s not all just bookwork.”

You can read Valima’s full statement here.