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N.I.C.E superintendent reacts to receiving zero CARES Act funding

Meaning Marquette, Negaunee and the N.I.C.E school districts will receive $0 in funding
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - U.P. superintendents are reacting to the governor’s announcement that sends $65 million in CARES Act funding to Michigan schools.

“This funding will go to Michigan school districts and other educational entities that have been hit most significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday.

That money will go to school districts in which 50% of students qualify for reduced or free lunch.

Meaning Marquette, Negaunee and the N.I.C.E school districts will receive $0 in funding.

“That doesn’t really make a lot of sense to us,” said Bryan DeAugustine, Superintendent of the N.I.C.E School District. “It’s not that I am against trying to help districts out that maybe have a higher free and reduced lunch population, or a higher poverty rate than N.I.C.E Community Schools does, but we are in the same boat as those schools. It’s money in and out at the end of the day.”

According to the governor’s office, 13 of 15 counties in the U.P. will receive additional funding. Including about 75% of school districts.

The Munising superintendent, Pete Kelto, is also reacting, issuing a statement that reads in part, “I’m pleased with the additional funding. We’re not sure at this point how much it means for Munising Public Schools.”

This all coming as the Michigan budget for the school fiscal year, which operates July to June, has still not been set.

“We are trying our best to be efficient and frugal with our projections so that we watch every penny,” said DeAugustine. “We do that in a normal year.”

The N.I.C.E school district, relies heavily on state funding, 75% of their revenue comes from the state with 85% of their expenses being spent on personnel. Leaving DeAugustine worried about potential cuts.

“We do need hands on deck and that comes in the form of adults who do this for their living,” said DeAugustine. “This isn’t just summer camp. They’re not just volunteering their time. We’re just kinda in a wait in see.”

DeAugustine says that they were able to save about $70,000 in last year’s budget and that $20,000 of it has already been spent on safety supplies like masks and hand sanitizers.

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