School Funding Is Complicated: One Part Goes Down But Total Goes Up

State's foundation grant to Ann Arbor goes down, but aid per pupil goes up

On July 5, Michigan Capitol Confidential took a look at the salaries of teachers in Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Dan Ezekiel, a teacher in the district, made claims back in May to his school board, which his union ran on its Facebook page.

“Our finances aren’t perfect but they never will be as long as a certain party remains in power in Lansing,” Ezekiel said.

ForTheRecord says: In Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s last budget in 2010-11, Ann Arbor Public Schools received a total of $86.4 million from the state, or an average of $5,215 per pupil. In 2015-16, when the budget was controlled by Republicans, Ann Arbor schools received $103.3 million from the state, or an average of $6,038 per pupil. That’s a 16 percent increase over a five-year span.

Ann Arbor’s state foundation allowance was $9,490 per pupil in 2010-11, and it fell to $9,170 per pupil in 2015-16. How can the foundation allowance decline while the state is giving a district more money?

That’s because the foundation allowance is a complex mix of state and local funding. The state also gives the district money that is not included in the foundation allowance, such as money for special education and to cover the costs of school employees' pensions.

Having the Republicans in charge doesn't necessarily mean more money for school districts, although it has been true under Gov. Rick Snyder. And having a Democratic governor doesn't always mean more money for school districts, either. State funding for schools was reduced in Granholm's last years.

And as the saying goes, "Correlation does not imply causation."