News Story

Last Year, Flint Schools Got Double The State Average In Funding

Yet local teachers union said $20k per student isn’t enough

In 2016, media outlets reported that the teachers union in Flint Community Schools had sponsored a rally calling attention to what it called inequalities in public education.

Michelle Gusen, a union administrator for United Teachers of Flint, was quoted as saying that all students should be eligible for a quality education. The story talked about full funding for school districts such as Flint.

But new figures from the Michigan Department of Education suggest that if money were the sole determinant of academic quality, then Flint schoolchildren should have received the finest education in the state that year. The district received $20,166 per pupil in operations funding in 2016-17, more than double the state average.

The amount was also more than double the per-pupil funding level received by the vast majority of Genesee County school districts that year. For example, Goodrich Area Schools received $8,895 per pupil when the state average was $9,910. The figures refer to money that flows into school districts’ general fund accounts, which cover daily operations, including payroll.

A state database lists local, state and federal revenues that add up to $15,966 for each student flowing into the Flint district’s general fund in 2016-17. But the total amount shown in the database for Flint that year is $20,166 per pupil. The Michigan Department of Education believes the difference of $4,200 per student represents grants, from various government sources, intended to deal with the Flint water crisis. In 2014, it was revealed that the city’s drinking water contained higher-than-allowed levels of lead due to insufficient water treatment.

Because Flint schools have a high number of students who come from low-income households, it normally gets much more federal money than most districts in the county and state. In the 2016-17 year, 90 percent of students attending Flint schools were eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch because they are considered economically disadvantaged.

To compare Flint to a nearby district, the general fund of Grand Blanc Community Schools received $563 in federal money for each pupil while the comparable number for Flint was $3,394.

Flint Superintendent Bilal Tawwab didn’t return an email seeking comment.

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.