News Story

Schools Serving Michigan’s Poor Cities Get More Taxpayer Dollars, Not Less

Benton Harbor schools received twice as much per student in 2019-20 as those serving its affluent neighbor St. Joseph

A recent article about the $6 billion in federal COVID funds Michigan’s public schools are getting suggested that the poor fiscal and academic performance records of Benton Harbor’s school district are due to inadequate funding.

Published by the Michigan arm of a national nonprofit called Chalkbeat, the article referred to the Benton Harbor district as "cash-strapped," and quoted an official saying it didn’t have money previously to provide expanded summer school programs.

Chalkbeat Detroit is not alone in portraying school districts in Michigan that serve poor communities as poorly funded. But the claim is not accurate, based on school funding data.

Benton Harbor Area Schools received $17,006 per pupil in total funding in 2019-20. This includes money from taxpayers at the local, state and federal levels. The average amount of revenue for operations received by Michigan public school districts in that year from all sources was $16,322 per pupil.

One of those sources of revenue is called the general fund. Benton Harbor received twice as money on a per-pupil basis than schools serving the far more affluent neighboring city of St. Joseph in 2019-20.

Benton Harbor Area Schools received $20,884 per pupil in general fund revenue in 2019-20, while St. Joseph Public Schools got $9,675. The statewide average was $10,687.

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.