Walled Lake Superintendent says an increase in state funding will be 'devastating'
The superintendent of the school district that has on average the third-highest paid teachers in the state said in a letter posted on the district's website that a $50 per-pupil foundation allowance increase from the state was "devastating."
Walled Lake Consolidated School District Superintendent Kenneth Gutman's response to the state budget claimed the $50 per-pupil increase in funding would translate to "another $518,000 loss for Walled Lake Schools."
A $50 per-pupil increase for a district with 15,000 students would generate about $750,000 more dollars for the district. It's unclear how Gutman came up with the loss figure. In the letter, he lamented the fact that "the majority of Michigan districts will receive as much as $175 per pupil additional," but Walled Lake was slated to receive "only $50" more per student.
School district officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.
"It's only in the public education sector that an increase in funding is considered to be a cut," said Audrey Spalding, education director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Many superintendents focus on the "per-pupil foundation allowance" funding because it funds most of the general operations for school districts. However, the foundation allowance is just a share of the money public schools receive from the state.
For example, the foundation allowance supplied the Oakland County school district with about $90.3 million in 2013-14. But the district received an additional $16.4 million to pay for things such as adult education, school lunch, special education and teacher retirement costs.
The state of Michigan has given the Walled Lake district an additional $3.1 million since 2008-09 despite the district having about 700 fewer students in those four years. The state gave Walled Lake $106.7 million in 2013-14 and $103.6 million in 2008-09. Enrollment dropped at Walled Lake to 15,012 in 2013-14 from 15,711 in 2008-09.
Walled Lake Consolidated Schools had total revenue of $196.5 million in 2008-09 and it has dropped to $176 million as of 2012-13. That $20 million reduction has come mostly from a $15.1 million drop in property taxes and a $4.7 million drop in federal grants and entitlements.
Teachers in the Walled Lake district earned $82,131 per year on average as of 2012-13, the latest year the Michigan Department of Education released salary data. The average teacher salary in the state was $62,350 in 2012-13.
Employee salaries and benefits accounted for 67 percent of Walled Lake's general fund budget in 2012-13.
The district had five teachers in 2013 who made more than $100,000. The top of the salary pay scale in the union contract is $91,403, but teachers can earn extra money by taking on additional responsibilities.
Gutman's 2013 salary is listed as $224,906 with a total compensation of $270,491. In the letter, Gutman said he was taking "what equates to a 3 percent salary concession."