News Story

State and Federal Money Pouring In To Post-Bailout Detroit School District

The newly bailed-out Detroit school district — renamed the “Detroit Public Schools Community District” — begins its post-bailout career with one of the highest per-pupil funding levels in the state, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

The district will receive $9,185 per pupil in state funding this year. For comparison, Van Buren Public Schools — also in Wayne County — will get $6,926 per pupil this year and the school system in affluent Grosse Pointe will get $8,517 per pupil.

A charter school called Cesar Chavez Academy in Detroit will get $8,141 per pupil.

Detroit’s $9,185 per-pupil total is not the same as the basic “foundation allowance” determined by a complex state formula, which is $7,552 per pupil for Detroit in 2016-17. The foundation allowance is a blend of local and state revenue that is used by a school district to pay for certain daily operation expenses.

A district's total state funding includes additional “categorical” grants for specific expenses that are outside of the foundation allowance. For example, Detroit will get another $22.9 million from the state because it has a high percentage of so-called at-risk students — ones eligible for federal meal subsidies.

Detroit schools also receive another $40.1 million for special education and another $39.0 million for employee pensions. That $39.0 million goes right back to Lansing, where it is applied to catching up on the statewide retirement system’s $26.7 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The Detroit district also has a large advantage over other school districts when it comes to federal funding, much of which is focused on helping low-income and at-risk student populations.

For example, a large share of Detroit’s federal school money comes in Title I grants. The district will receive $99.3 million in these grants in 2016-17, or roughly another $2,146 per pupil.

By comparison, Troy School District receives $430,777 ($33 per pupil) in these federal grants and Clarkston Community Schools receives $366,934 ($48 per pupil).

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.