WEST BRANCH, Mich. – A Michigan school district recently under fire for retaining seven teachers who publicly supported a convicted child molester is losing many more students this year than officials anticipated.
The West Branch-Rose City school board voted last month to keep seven teachers who recently sent letters to a local judge, asking him to give a lenient sentence to their former colleague who had been convicted of molesting a 14-year-old student.
Adding to the controversy was WB-RC school board member Mike Eagan’s decision to sit with the molester’s family during sentencing. Eagan is facing a potential recall because of his actions.
The situation sparked a community outrage and many parents threatened to remove their children from the school district when officials refused to heed their calls to terminate the letter-writing teachers.
It appears many parents are following through on their threats.
WB-RC officials conducted an unofficial student count shortly after the start of school this month, and the results show dozens more students dropped out of the system than school officials had budgeted for.
WB-RC Superintendent Dan Cwayna told EAGnews the district is “down 87 students, but we built our budget for 60 fewer students.”
At roughly $7,000 per student, the district is out over $600,000 in state per-pupil funding this year.
“Eighty-seven is a lot, but we planned on 60 based on our graduating class and our incoming kindergarten class,” Cwayna said.
In other words, the district is facing an unanticipated loss of almost $200,000, although the superintendent wouldn’t speculate on the reason behind it.
“When a child leaves and enrolls in another district … they don’t give us a reason they left, necessarily,” Cwayna said. “It’s hard to know for sure.”
Cwayna did acknowledge, however, things could get much worse.
A local parent reported to EAGnews that many families in the district plan to keep their kids home on the state’s official student count day September 25, which will be the determining factor for WB-RC’s state funding.
“We’ve heard that rumor,” Cwayna said. “I have no idea what our official number will be.”
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org