Our public schools are facing ever-increasing challenges to providing outstanding services to their students and the greater communities they serve. School budgets are tighter than ever, and the situation is not likely to improve in the next few years given the state of Michigan's financial condition.
Both the Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills school districts long have been shining jewels of the greater community. The quality of the schools has helped keep property values robust (the last couple of years notwithstanding) and our children well prepared for college life and beyond.
But change is inevitable, and our public schools cannot sidestep the need to address the need for change in such a rapidly changing world. And strangling financial pressures are without question fueling that need to do things differently.
To help our business community and residents get a handle on what our public schools are facing, and where they are heading into this new school year and beyond, the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber is planning a new event, titled “Breakfast, Books and Buildings.” We've invited the superintendents of the two districts — David Larson from Birmingham and Robert Glass from Bloomfield Hills — to give a report card of sorts to the community and answer questions from their constituents.
We hope the event will stimulate conversation about the future of our public schools and provide an up front look at the myriad challenges those charged with operating our schools face in continuing to provide the best K-12 education available in the state of Michigan.
The title of our new event incorporates one issue sure to be on a lot of people's minds: the planned consolidation of Bloomfield Hills' two high schools. The issue has been discussed, debated and dissected for at least a decade, and is a very emotional issue for those living in the district. We suspect that Glass, who is embarking on his first school year as superintendent in Bloomfield Hills after replacing Steve Gaynor, will be asked at least a few questions about the proposal.
Another building issue confronts the Birmingham district, following a decision to sell off the administration building on Merrill Street in downtown Birmingham. The administration is reviewing options on where to house its central staff, and we hope Larson will be able to provide an update on the issue.
“Breakfast, Books & Buildings” is scheduled for 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25, at the Birmingham Conference Center. We invite both residents and the business community to come and learn more about their public schools and where they are headed in this era of uncertainty. To learn more about the event or to reserve a spot, visit the Chamber's website at www.bbcc.com
Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.