School funding report updates cost of educating Michigan students in post-COVID world
Grand Rapids Public Schools have seen five of their administrators take jobs in surrounding districts for “a lot more money” this year, illustrating the inequalities created by the state’s school funding formula, the door said. – district speech, John Helmholdt.
Major fundamental changes are needed to help districts like GRPS that serve a higher percentage of poor or special needs students attract and retain administrators, teachers and staff, Helmholdt said.
“You’re talking about a systemic and institutionalized problem that has really created this situation between high poverty and high need neighborhoods and richer neighborhoods,” Helmholdt said. “This is where we need to look at how our public funding formula created these inequalities, how did it create this us versus them, and how it facilitated segregation in schools, because you have concentrations of poverty. “
Some solutions to these inequalities are offered in a revised study prepared for the Michigan School Finance Resource Collaborative, said Helmholdt, which aims to more accurately reflect the cost of educating students across the state.
The study updates the suggested cost of basic resources needed to meet Michigan education standards and requirements, taking into account recent developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Read by Third Grade Act.
“What we found is that the needs of our schools have only grown, while funding has struggled to keep up,” said Robert McCann, Collaborative Project Leader for Research in Finance. school.
“As federal funding temporarily fills these gaps in our state’s K-12 funding model, it is clear that we must act now to replace this flawed system with one that meets the unique needs of each school.” and of every student as we have the opportunity. ”
The study was released days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced his K-12 education funding priorities, which include investing hundreds of millions of dollars in school recovery and health. student mental health, with funding to attract and retain teachers, school psychologists, counselors and social workers. workers.
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The updated study recommends an overall increase of $ 831 in the base cost per student to educate a student. The cost of $ 9,590 per student in the previous study was increased to $ 10,421 in 2021, for a large district of 13,590 or more students.
The updated calculation is based on the additional costs to educate students living in poverty, those enrolled in special education programs and English language learners, while taking into account the expansion of access to the programs vocational and technical education.
These are all priorities in Whitmer’s proposed K-12 budget, Kent Intermediate School District Superintendent Ron Koehler said, including investing money in students who need it most through a formula Weighted Funding that supports additional funding for at-risk students ($ 20.4 million), special education students ($ 60 million) and English language learners ($ 12.2 million).
“While the governor’s budget obviously does not have the resources to fully meet it, it recognizes and begins providing dollars as directed to help schools meet the needs,” Koehler said.
“This is extremely important because the requirements for every student in the state are the same, but we know that equal funding doesn’t mean equitable funding because some students just don’t have the support that they can. others have. “
The study, which was prepared by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, recommends an increase in average salaries for various school staff positions ranging from its previous report, including an additional $ 258 per year for teachers, $ 1,183 for assistants schools and paraprofessionals and up to nearly $ 8,000. more for computer technicians and school security officers.
The report’s panels also recommend additional funding for:
- Increase in maintenance and operating costs by 15% to $ 1,265 per student
- Increased base cost per student for software purchases and licenses from $ 100 to $ 150 per student
- Increase in the days allowance per substitute teacher from 10 days to 13 days, while increasing the recommended replacement salary from $ 100 to $ 150 per day
Helmholdt believes what Whitmer has proposed in his updated executive budget for K-12 education is a step in the right direction in bringing the Foundation Foundation grant to the same level among the best-funded districts. and the least well funded.
Whitmer budget to include increase of up to $ 164 per K-12 student, plus funding for higher education
Under the proposed budget, the state would spend $ 402 million to increase the foundation allowance for the worst-funded districts by $ 326 per student and $ 163 per student for the best-funded districts. The budget invests an additional $ 262 million to close the funding gap between schools in low- and high-income communities, as outlined in Proposal A of 1994, which established the minimum base allocation per student.
This would allow most school districts that received $ 8,111 per student to be on a par with districts that are able to report more than the minimum base allocation per student, such as Bloomfield Hills School. District ($ 12,364), Birmingham Public Schools ($ 12,284) and Southfield Public Schools ($ 11,331).
The state needs to rethink the way it funds schools based on true cost to meet the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of all students, Helmholdt said, as he moves from a deficit from near from $ 3 billion to a surplus of $ 3.5 billion after receiving American Rescue. Set aside dollars that will allow him to invest in education.
Whitmer’s proposed budget also invests $ 500 million for districts to hire and retain more teachers, psychologists, social workers, counselors and nurses, and provide student loan debt relief to health professionals. mental and physical health workers in high need districts. Another $ 500 million is proposed for school infrastructure.
“What Governor Whitmer has come up with with his updated executive budget is one of the best budgets we’ve ever seen – in that it finally delivers on the promises of Proposal A and brings in the core base grant. between the best-funded and the least-funded districts, at the same level, ”Helmholdt said.
“It was a huge starting point so that we can now move on to where we know the inadequacy and inequalities lie in the way we finance our poorest and most needy students. “
Koehler applauded Whitmer’s proposed budget for Kindergarten to Grade 12 to deal with the continuing increase in spending, noting that the proposed base allocation of $ 8,692 per student is still more than $ 1,000 lower per student. raises what the study recommended in 2018.
The funding increases recommended in the report would help Michigan address shortages of qualified social workers, psychologists and nurses, ultimately helping overworked teachers in the classroom, Koehler said.
“Michigan is so far behind other states in finally providing the resources for schools to have these professionals in their buildings,” Koehler said. “We have to find a way to provide more social and emotional support to students if they are to be successful. And when we don’t provide enough social workers, school psychologists, and school nurses, what happens is it overloads the teaching staff.
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