News Story

Hazel Park Superintendent Talks Years Of Cuts, But Per-Pupil Funding Up

District’s inflation-adjusted state funding higher per student since 2011

In a July 3 Detroit Free Press article on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plans to reopen Michigan public schools, the superintendent of an Oakland County district discussed its current and past financial challenges.

The article reported, “Amy Kruppe is superintendent of Hazel Park Schools, which has struggled financially for years and will struggle to pay for things like personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

‘Every dollar that goes to these items will take away from our students and staff who have been on the receiving end of cuts for many years in Hazel Park,’ she said.”

The Hazel Park district has experienced an increase in per-pupil state funding from 2011-12 to 2018-19. That includes all state dollars received by the district, not just the main “foundation allowance” figure that is often the only amount reported in media coverage. Importantly, the foundation allowance does not include additional state funds received by schools with more low-income students. It also does not include payments that all districts get to cover the expenses of school employee pensions.

Hazel Park received $9,069 per pupil [state dollars only] in 2018-19, the most recent year for which comprehensive funding levels are available. In 2011-12, the district received the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $8,741 per pupil in 2019 dollars.

That’s not to say the Hazel Park district does not face financial pressures. In those seven years, the district has seen enrollment plummet, falling from 4,962 students in 2011-12 to 3,238 in 2018-19, a drop of 35%.

The district’s general fund was $35.5 million in 2019. In 2012, the district’s general fund received $45.4 million.

That drop in revenue came about because fewer students attend the district’s schools, not because the state is contributing less. Under Michigan’s school finance system, state dollars follow students to whatever public school district they attend.

And like the other public school district, years of pension underfunding means Hazel Park Schools also faces higher retirement expenses.

Despite having far fewer students and staff, annual retirement costs at Hazel Park schools have increased from $4.3 million in 2011-12 to $5.6 million in 2018-19.