EGRNOW! 2015-2016 UPDATE:

753 donors
$406,000 raised
SUPPORTING:
Elementary Gym, Art, Music & World Language;
High School Performing Arts Manager;
Elementary K-1 Paraeducators


Thank you to everyone who was 100% ALL IN! to help us maintain programming as well as bring back previously reduced support.

To make a one-time gift, click HERE

To begin an automatic monthly gift through PayPal click HERE:

1.  Fill out the online form
2.  Click on SUBMIT to go to the CONFIRMATION page
3.  Click the “Donate” button on the confirmation page to go to the PayPal screen
3.  Enter your monthly donation amount
4.  Check the box next to the amount to make it a monthly payment

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.43.15 PM
Example of PayPal screen

To download a donation form, click HERE

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events to support our schools.

STAY INFORMED:  THE EGRPS COMMUNITY BUDGET GUIDE is available online to learn more about how public schools are funded and the uncertainty and challenges facing public education.

 

 

EGRNOW! FAQ’s

If you do not find the answer to your question here, please contact the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation at egrsf@egrps.org or at 616-235-3535 for more information.

HISTORY OF EGRNOW!
EGRNOW! was launched in 2012 as an intentional strategy complementing and supporting the long-term success of our school district. The EGRSF continues to look towards the future and take action ensuring the health and well-being long-term.  EGRNOW! filled an important gap by preserving programs in 2012 that would otherwise not be available today. The community recognized and supported the important aspects of preserving critical programs.

Collectively, over the years, donors have provided tremendous support, preserving the quality of education for EGR. The EGR Public School District represents the largest industry and is a vital part of our long-term success and growing community. The EGRSF will continue to partner with the school district and broader community to weather the continual changes in funding from the state. The balance between short and long-term funding is an evolving strategy which allows flexibility for the future. With our community’s support we can continue to attract and retain residents and families that value excellence in education!

The past four years of reductions have proven to us that $300 per student is the average amount needed to maintain our current programming.

Thank you EGRNOW! 2015-2016
Thank you to our community members for making an impact in our schools. Through voluntary donations, garage sales, bake sales, school events and tireless advocacy, we have made a difference in the lives of all EGR students.  The funds raised from the EGRNOW! 2015-2016 efforts supported:

  • Elementary World Language
  • Elementary Gym, Art and Music
  • High School Performing Arts Center Manager
  • Elementary K-1 Paraeducators

What was the goal of EGRNOW! 2016?
The goal of EGRNOW! is to reach 100% participation in raising significant voluntary contributions to preserve and support critical programs for our students.  In order to maintain the district’s current programming (elementary spanish and specials) and eliminate the deficit, we have a minimal goal of raising $283,000.  Funds raised beyond this goal will be used to reinstate programs and services previously reduced.

What did EGRNOW! 2015 support?
Elementary Spanish and Elementary Specials were preserved for the 2015-2016 school year.  Thank you to our almost 800 community members who gave generously of their time and resources, we were able to raise over $255,000 to preserve those elementary programs for one year.  Assuming per pupil funding does not increase, we will need to raise the same amount again to preserve these same programs for the 2016-2017 school year.

What are the budget challenges for 2016-2017?
Current K-12 programs and services that impact teaching and learning will be directly affected through additional budget reductions which are necessary in order to balance future budgets.  The district’s fund balance is currently at a minimal level.  Programs that were funded in part by EGRNOW! will be at risk again if additional funding is not provided by the state. 

Why do we have a deficit?  
All Michigan school districts have been facing these financial pressures since the dip in the economy in 2009.  We are fortunate that our district chooses to be open and transparent with financial issues.  Significant cuts and efficiencies have been made as we continue to work our way through this deficit.  Most districts are now feeling the reductions in state funding like we have for years.  They have been able to divert this pressure by adding students through housing development and school of choice as well as increasing class sizes.

How does the district fund operations and programs?

  • Funding for the operational budget (e.g., instruction, personnel, etc.) is primarily reliant on the State of Michigan, and the Board of Education cannot ask the community to support tax proposals to increase operational funding.
  • Currently we are receiving per-pupil funding that is significantly less than in 2008-2009, when we first began significant reductions.
  • When considering local, state and federal sources of revenue, East Grand Rapids Public Schools ranks 9th out of the 20 Kent County school districts for total revenue received per-pupil, and 8th out of the 9 “like districts” from around the state.
  • The Board of Education and administration place a strong emphasis on total budget allocations (75% of total budget) going to programs and services that impact teaching and learning.

How does the district fund capital projects?
The 2015 Bond Issue will provide a 10+ year source of funding for technology which will allow the district to update educational technology to support teaching and learning.  Facility needs, such as roofs, boilers, and major mechanical systems will be upgraded with the 2014 bond construction program.  In addition, the 2014 bond will support facility upgrades to increase security in all buildings.

Why did the school get new carpet but we lost an HS Guidance Counselor?
In May 2014, the voters of EGR approved a bond to upgrade our school entrances for safety reasons, to provide updates to outdated technology which will be phased in over time, and to improve/update buildings to reflect the reality of how space is now used by our students.  The money from this bond can ONLY be used for these upgrades and CANNOT be used for operational expenses, such as programs and personnel expenses.

Have any reductions been made in the personnel budget?

  • Personnel expenses represent 87% of the total operational budget
  • Total salaries and wages are $400,000 lower than 5 years ago, and base wage and salary scales have not been increased for four years
  • The district has been progressive with health care benefit programs; overall expense is $400,000 lower than 5 years ago
  • For the 2015-2016 school year, administrative employees took a 2% reduction, which is the second round of reductions for this group of employees

What impact does PROPOSAL A have on us currently?
In 1994, Michigan voters approved Proposal A, which revamped how schools would be funded, shifting the funding from local sources to the State of Michigan.  We now rely on  a “per-pupil allowance” from Lansing, the amount of which is determined during the state’s annual budget process, for almost all our operational needs.  For the 2014-2015 school year, the minimum per-pupil amount was $7,251, and the maximum was $8,099 per-pupil.  East Grand Rapids Public Schools received $7,500 per-pupil for 2014-2015.

While Proposal A did dramatically lower property taxes, we lost the ability to make decisions on local funding for our schools.  While a local community can still pass bonds for capital projects (i.e., building construction, facilities and technology upgrades), it is prohibited by law from doing so for operational expenses (i.e., staff expenses, programs such as art, music, gym and Spanish, and any other costs related to the day-to-day operation of the school).
If Proposal A were not in effect today, primary resident homeowners would pay an additional $2,489 in property taxes on every $100,000 of assessed home value, or 51% more in local property taxes, and this money would go to EGR Public Schools for operations and programs.

Don’t our property taxes pay for education?
Property taxes pay for buildings, repairs and technology.  By law (Proposal A, passed in 1994), property taxes cannot be allocated for programs or services in public schools. 

Our schools have seen reductions in per-student state funding every year, but I am just starting to notice major cuts to programs and services. Why is that?
From 2009-2015 programs and services at East Grand Rapids Public Schools have been cut by $4.5 million.  The administrators and staff have worked hard to keep the cuts away from the classroom and utilize volunteers wherever possible.  Unfortunately, the cuts are getting deeper and more visible.  Click HERE to see the list of budget reductions since 2009.

Why do I need to support EGRNOW! when every year it seems like everything turns out fine?
Although programs have been preserved over the years, there have been multiple reductions that affect the functioning of the entire district, including the following just in the past 3 years:

Elementary classroom paraprofessionals $100,000
Administrative staff  $140,000
Teaching staff                                                                                    $90,000
Teacher early retirement incentive $80,000
Pay to participate (athletics fees increased) $50,000
Outsourcing of non-staff coaches            $30,000
Visually impaired services $90,000
Special Education paraprofessionals $35,000
10% Building/Department budget reductions $51,000
Business Office reduction $15,000
Administrative total compensation reduction (2%) $40,000
MS/HS Secretarial reductions $60,000
Early Childhood Secretarial position $55,000
Special Education restructuring $63,000
Technology Staff reduction $74,000
MS/HS General Education Teaching Reduction $120,000
High School Guidance restructuring $80,000
Intervention Specialist/Admin Services restructuring $80,000

 

Can’t the school board just use the fund equity?
The school district is already at the minimum allowable by our outside auditor and the state. The school board cannot use fund equity.  Three years ago our fund equity was 12.8% of our operating balance.  Currently it is only 5.5%, which will only run the district for 20 days.

How does this campaign affect the EGRSF endowment fund?
The EGRNOW! campaign is separate from the endowment fund.  EGRNOW! allows us to raise funds and use those funds raised for immediate needs within the district.  EGRFOREVER!, the endowment fund, will continue forever.  A portion of the endowment’s earnings are awarded as grants each year to enrich the educational experience of the students in the East Grand Rapids Public Schools. It pays for program equipment, supplies and other enhancements which require funding beyond the state or district. 

I don’t have children in the EGR schools. Why should I contribute to this campaign?
The residents of East Grand Rapids value and are committed to education.  Families buy homes in EGR because of the academic excellence of our schools.  Strong schools support strong property values, which benefit everyone – residents, business owners and employees – in EGR.

The State sets the funding levels for our schools.  What are some things that the District provides that are not required by the State (and that may not be included in the State’s calculations of “adequate” funding levels)?
EGRPS supports a rigorous education that addresses the development of the whole child.  Some of the programs provided by East Grand Rapids Public Schools which go beyond State mandates include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading Recovery and Support
  • Art and music
  • Elementary world language
  • Advanced Placement Courses

These programs make East Grand Rapids stand out against other schools and contribute to the academic excellence our students deserve.