PORT HURON, Mich. - They agree that enrollment is declining and state revenue has dropped, but the Port Huron Area School District and the Michigan Education Association do not agree on whether that constitutes a "financial emergency," according to The (Port Huron) Times Herald.

The school board declared such an emergency and laid off 17 paraprofessionals last week, but said nine will be recalled with expanded responsibilities, The Times Herald reported. District officials said they need to reduce spending in order to avoid a budget deficit in 2010-2011.

The district is overspending by more than $8 million this year, officials said, and will use $5 million in fund balance and about $3.7 million in spending cuts to cover the gap, according to The Times Herald.

The MEA contends that Port Huron should use more of its $16 million fund balance to cover spending, according to The Times Herald. Port Huron Education Association President Chad Mannlein told The Times Herald that the district also should consider new millages or bond requests to generate more revenue.

The Port Huron Times Herald, "Officials, MEA spar about district's health," Dec. 22, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Source of The School Budget Quagmire," Dec. 7, 2009