If the state of Michigan follows the recommendations of a new report on public schools, it will need to spend at least $2.8 billion more each year, according to an analysis by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

For context, the state’s entire prison budget this year is $2 billion.

The report, released Jan. 17 by an entity called the School Finance Research Collaborative, was produced by the Colorado-based firm APA Consulting. That firm works mainly with federal, state and local public education agencies and interests. APA is the same firm the state of Michigan paid to produce a similar report, which was released in 2016.

The new report declares that the base cost of educating a student in Michigan is $9,590. That amount does not include money for transportation, food service, or building costs, and it compares to a state foundation allowance of $7,631 per pupil for most public schools. The allowance is the basis of Michigan’s school finance system, but public schools also get additional revenue from local, state and federal governments.

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The new APA product contains no definitive price tag of how much the state should spend on public schools.

“We do not yet have a costing out for each district and charter school of the full implementation of the research report recommendations released on Jan. 17,” said Bob Moore, the project director of the School Finance Research Collaborative. Moore also is the deputy superintendent of finance and operations for Oakland Schools, an intermediate school district. “We hope to have that information before the end of February. Keep in mind that the costs which result from such implementation are funded from state, local and federal funding sources.”

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Skillman Foundation, two Michigan foundations that helped fund the study, did not return emails seeking comment on the cost to implement its recommendations.

Leon Drolet, chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said the state has increased annual funding for K-12 schools by more than a billion dollars since 2010-11, without getting better results. State spending on K-12 education (not including local or federal money) increased from $11.1 billion in 2011-12 to $12.9 billion in 2017-18, a $1.8 billion increase in annual funding for public schools over a six-year span.

“I wish as much passion was spent improving education as is spent demanding more money for education,” Drolet said. “Their solution never changes even when you send them more money. We keep sending them more money but keep getting the same results.”

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