News Story

Status Quo School Budgets? Superintendent Complains, But His Funding Up $528 Per Kid

Political fact-checkers go silent when school spending interests spin

In the ongoing debates over school funding in Michigan, the claims made by many school administrators do not stand up to scrutiny when they are investigated.

A recent example was provided by Riverview Community Schools Superintendent Russell Pickell, who said that past state funding for K-12 schools has been inadequate.

“The budget recommendations Gov. Whitmer released last month were directly based on research showing how we can better fund our schools. The Senate’s budget appears to be based only on an interest in maintaining the status quo and keeping special interest line items intact,” said Pickell on Medium.com. “In years past, educators may have looked at this budget and said ‘It could be worse,’ but status quo is no longer going to cut it. The Legislature needs to try harder than this because our students deserve better than this.”

The Riverview Community School District has fared quite well under past state budgets, however.

The district’s per-pupil funding in state-supplied dollars (not including local or federal dollars) increased from $8,234 per pupil in the 2010-11 fiscal year to $8,762 per pupil in 2018-19, even after adjusting for inflation.

That means the district is getting a real, after-inflation increase of $528 per pupil since fiscal year 2010-11, which is when former Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed her last budget.

Riverview’s teachers have also received raises. For example, one middle school American history teacher has seen his salary rise from $61,716 in 2013-14 to $74,036 in 2017-18. A middle school math teacher saw her salary go from $76,435 in 2013-14 to $80,168 in 2017-18, a 4.8% raise over the four-year period.

The average teacher salary in the district is $67,282.

Pickell didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.