News Story

Whitmer budget would slash funding for online charter schools

Whitmer’s 2024 budget proposes a 20% funding cut for Michigan’s online charter schools

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2024 and 2025 budget recommendations propose no cuts from the previous budget, with one exception – online charter schools. Whitmer proposes a 20% cut to the schools, which opponents of the plan say is discrimination.

This would not be the first time Whitmer has singled out charter schools.

Whitmer’s 2023 budget recommendations included $2,000 retention payments for teachers in the state, though her specific wording, that the teachers must be “employed by” their districts, excluded most charter schools.

Charter school teachers are often paid as contractors and would not be eligible for the bonus. Whitmer also wanted to increase per-pupil funding from $8,700 to $9,135, with the exception of students in online charter schools.

“Gov. Whitmer’s proposal to cut funding for online charter schools is unfair and discriminates against students who attend these schools,” said Molly Macek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center.

Macek says that many families have no choice but to send their children to online schools, due to health concerns or other factors.

“School districts that operate full-time online schools would not be subject to this budget cut,” Macek told CapCon. “With only a handful of fully online charter schools in the state, ensuring they receive the same foundation allowance as other schools will have a negligible impact on the state budget – and a significant impact on families who benefit from them.”

Kendall Schroeder, executive director of the Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, says students should be treated equally, regardless of the school they attend.

The funding cuts recommended by Whitmer “target kids who attend virtual public schools,” Schroeder said. The cut would “force us to cut academic programs and services that would negatively impact our kids, especially our at-risk students who need more support.”

Whitmer also denied a $35 million increase for charter schools in 2019 while increasing funding for local school districts.

The governor’s office did not respond to a CapCon 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.