News Story

State Data Rebuts Civil Rights Commission’s Claim Schools In Poor Cities Are Underfunded

For example, Benton Harbor and Flint Schools received about 50% more than the average district

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a report in September, discussing public school funding in the state. The document claimed, “Historically, poor neighborhoods of color and/or minority neighborhoods lack the resources and opportunities” they need to be effective when compared to other communities.

This claim is not supported by data collected by the state of Michigan and available on its various websites.

When all funding sources are included – local, state and federal – Michigan school districts that serve poor communities receive far more taxpayer dollars for each student than the average public school.

For example, Benton Harbor Area Schools serves a city where the poverty rate was 46.9% from 2014-18, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The district’s general fund received $14,740 per pupil in 2018-19, according to the state of Michigan. That number includes local, state and federal money flowing into the account that covers day-to-day school operations, including teacher salaries and other payroll expenses.

In the state of Michigan, the average school district received $10,487 per pupil in the 2018-19 school year. St. Joseph Public Schools borders the Benton Harbor district. It serves a city where the poverty rate was 7.7%, and it received $9,700 per pupil in the 2018-19 year — thousands of dollars less.

Flint provides another example of a district that gets extra funding because it serves a low-income community.

The city of Flint had a 40.4% poverty rate, according to the Census Bureau. Flint Public Schools received $15,908 per pupil in 2018-19, which was 52% above the state average.

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.