ISD appeals program removal ruling to state
The Barry Intermediate School District began its appeal on Monday of an April ruling by the Michigan Department of Education. Superintendent Richard Franklin and Chief Financial Officer Cindy Larson of the BISD met with state auditors to discuss the state education department audit that resulted in a recommendation to remove several programs that had been under the ISD's supervision.
Monday's meeting provided the ISD an opportunity to present information to the state with no results or decisions expected. According to Franklin, the meeting was strictly the chance to clear up some of the discrepancies found by the state.
“The meeting went well,” Franklin said. “We feel good about our situation. I think we put all our information forward pretty clearly.”
The meeting took place in an informal review setting, a format that was requested by Franklin in hopes that both sides could more easily cover the state's report. Franklin has called the state's report “amazingly inept” and “a sorry piece of work.”
According to the report, the MDE found a total of $129,059 in questioned costs and $34,849 in misclassified costs after a review of the BISD's records for the Great Start Readiness Program. Those findings led to the state’s recommendation that the GSRP and its programs be removed from ISD control and assigned to another ISD.
Moving the GSRP program from Barry to another ISD, the MDE report stated, “will not diminish the delivery of early childhood programs and services to the families and children of Barry County.”
Both the state and the BISD have said that there will continue to be a GSRP program available for the students and families of Barry County, but neither entity has provided a 100% guarantee as to who will be running the program.
Franklin said that the state has requested some further information following the meeting on Monday but, once that information is in MDE hands, all that’s left is to wait for the state's ruling on the appeal. If the state rules against BISD, 30 days will be allowed to submit another appeal to the State Superintendent.
Franklin previously said that the ISD is focused on the current appeal and will only start to explore a further appeal if the situation comes to that.
“We want what’s best for the children and families,” he stated, “not what’s best for the ISD.”