Flint-area native and filmmaker Michael Moore recently placed some blame on corporations for the city of Flint’s financial woes and said the city ended up with a lower tax base and “not enough money for schools.”
But Flint Public Schools has never spent more money per pupil than it did in 2010, the latest year for which financial data is available from the state, says Michael Van Beek, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s director of education policy.
That’s because the district gets a large chunk of its money from the state and federal government.
According to the Michigan Department of Education, Flint’s general fund spending increased from $5,497 per pupil in 1992 to $14,058 per pupil in 2010. After adjusting for inflation, that’s a 65 percent increase. At the same time, the district's enrollment decreased by 57 percent between 1992 and 2010.
“Not addressed is the other revenues (state and federal),” Van Beek said. “There is more money per pupil in Flint in 2010 than there ever has been because of the state and federal dollars. It’s not that Moore is wrong, it is just not the complete picture. The part of losing local tax revenue is true, but they also get state and federal dollars. That’s the narrative that hasn’t been on display."
Van Beek said when people think of Flint they think that the school district must really be hurting.
"That's not the case," he added. "You look at their numbers, they are spending more money per pupil than ever.”