School Budgets Stressed Alright — But Not From Mythical State ‘Cuts’

Watch the skyrocketing pension expenses

In a recent story about public school districts that overspent their budgets, The Detroit News examined Utica Community Schools, with a focus on spending cuts made by the district.

The newspaper reported, “Utica also made cuts to technology, staffing and other areas to make up for the remaining debt.”

Utica Assistant Superintendent Stephanie Eagen was quoted as saying the district made budget cuts. The article also said teacher layoffs were being planned and an English program was restructured to “keep the district afloat. …”

ForTheRecord says: Some politicians have portrayed Michigan’s schools as being underfunded or getting less money, but the reality is that funding has increased.

Utica Community Schools got an additional $14 million from the state this year compared to three years ago — $217.2 million in 2015-16 versus $203.2 million in the 2012-13 school year. That increase came despite a loss of 681 students over the three-year span.

And Utica’s General Fund revenues have increased from $248.2 million in 2013 to $259.3 million in 2015. This is a district that is spending more money despite having fewer students.

That the district is still struggling financially is due largely to expenses in the state-run school pension system, which have skyrocketed. Utica’s required contributions to the system were $24.4 million in 2013 but rose to $46.8 million in 2015.