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Barry ISD plans to run Great Start program; no word from state

Luke Froncheck

Staff Writer

Barry Intermediate School District Superintendent Richard Franklin says the Great Start Readiness Program will be proceed for the 2019-20 school year under the management of the intermediate school district.

It's unclear where the state stands on that. The last public statement from the Michigan Department of Education indicated that Barry ISD had been removed from that responsibility. MDE officials haven't responded to requests for information from The Banner.

Franklin said he and the district's chief financial officer Cindy Larson met with state auditors July 22. This “informal hearing” was part of their appeal of an April report from the MDE that had recommended the removal of the GSRP program from Barry ISD management, he said.

“We’re assuming there will be a state budget with program funding,” Franklin said. “We’re still planning to have classes in Delton and Hastings, and we still plan on serving the 4-year-olds of Delton and Hastings.”

They are in the process of enrolling students for fall GSRP classes. “It’s hard to imagine we won’t have it,” he said.

Even if Barry ISD didn’t manage the program, Franklin said he would expect whatever entity that came in to manage it would keep the same teachers in the same classrooms.

“I just can’t imagine an upheaval of change like that,” he said. “We’re already into August.”

In its report, the state had pointed to “significant mismanagement of the GSRP funds, as documented during this fiscal monitoring spanning two program years, in addition to the exhaustion of GSRP funding with no provision for the start of the 2019-20 school year.”

These factors prompted state officials to recommend that “the funding allocation for the Barry ISD catchment area be awarded to an ISD with geographic proximity and demonstrated capacity to operate/manage successful, high-quality GSRP classrooms.”

“The auditors didn’t ask us about any of things they’re citing,” Franklin noted. “If they had, we could have shown them correctly how to read our books.”

Franklin said the state's report was based on “flawed data collection.”

Since the state has yet to notify the ISD of what is going to happen, “status quo prevails until any potential change occurs,” he said.

In its report, MDE had recommended removal of several programs from Barry ISD, including the GSRP program, reporting a total of $129,059 in questioned costs and $34,849 in misclassified costs.

“The money is gone because we spent it on exactly what we said,” Franklin said in an earlier interview. “We believe we’ve been in complete compliance with the state's rules.”

 

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