Second in a series on education
The constant drum beat by many involved with Michigan’s public schools is that the state isn’t spending enough money on education.
Yet, a report by the Senate Fiscal Agency shows that the School Aid Fund will increase by $454 million from 2012-13 to 2013-14 even though the state is projected to have 6,100 fewer students.
State tax dollars will account for $391 million of that $454 million increase. The rest are federal dollars. State and fedearl dollars account for $13.4 billion in the school aid fund for 2013-2014, with $11.4 billion of that coming from the state.
"These people have been complaining for so long and so thoroughly, they refuse to acknowledge they are the winners in the state budget," said James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
In June, the Michigan Department of Education stated the number of districts in deficit increased to a record 55 from 49. However, the state added 10 districts that were projected to emerge from deficit by the end of June. MDE officials said they won't have an official count until November.
The complaints about needing more money are illustrated across the state. For example, in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, some teachers got raises while the district approved charging students for taking certain classes and increased a pay-for-play charge for sports.
The district said a lack of state funding created fiscal havoc throughout Michigan.
"Every employee is contributing to make up the ongoing deficit that plagues not only AAPS (Ann Arbor Public Schools) but every public school district in the state due to the inadequate funding policies of public education in Michigan," Ann Arbor Public School Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said in an email.
Ann Arbor’s per-pupil state foundation allowance is projected to increase from $9,020 in 2012-13 to $9,050, which is the highest in Washtenaw County and 16 percent higher than the nearest school district.
Others affiliated with public schools also have pointed to a lack of funding for many district’s financial woes.
Michigan Association of School Boards Executive Director Kathy Hayes questioned earlier this year in an article published on the MASB website whether there was a steady disinvestment in public education in Michigan.
"They are getting more money, there are fewer students and they are complaining about money," Hohman said.