News Story

Fewer Students, More Spending, Fewer Fiscally Challenged Schools

A trend underway since 2013 in Michigan

Just four years ago, Michigan public school officials projected a dim financial future for the state’s school system. A record 59 public school districts in 2013 experienced an unsustainable deficit, meaning they spent more than their annual revenue could cover.

In 2013, then-state superintendent of education Mike Flanagan predicted there would be more than 100 districts in deficit by 2017.

This year, however, saw just 19 public school districts in deficit, the lowest number since 2004-05, when 18 school districts overspent their revenue. There were 41 districts in deficit in 2015 and 29 in 2016.

Since 2013, the trend has been a steady decline in the number of fiscally precarious Michigan public school districts.

According to the Michigan Department of Education, current state superintendent Brian Whiston attributes the decline in the number of schools in deficit to an improved economy and several years of increases in the per pupil foundation allowance.

In the seven budgets that Gov. Rick Snyder has approved, state dollars dedicated to K-12 funding has increased by $5.2 billion above what previous Gov. Jennifer Granholm had budgeted. The $5.2 billion spending increase has been accompanied an enrollment decline of 92,000 K-12 students between the 2011-12 to 2017-18 school years.