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Latest on the 2018-19 School Aid budget

Michigan School Aid Budget - state of play as of May 9

[Update: versions of the budget passed by each chamber.]

State budget timeline:

  • January: top state economists meet to make tax revenue projections (Consensus Revenue Estimation Conference)
  • February: Governor proposes a budget, based on the revenue estimates
  • March-April: Legislative appropriations subcommittees develop their own alternatives; horsetrading begins
  • May: top state economists reconvene to update revenue projections, which must be used to comply with balanced budget amendment
  • May-June: Using the May projections, Governor and legislative leaders hammer out agreement on basic budget numbers; appropriations committees adjust individual bills with new numbers. "Supplemental" spending bills adjust current year budget to revised revenue projections.
  • May-June: Individual spending bills are rolled into omnibus budget bills; final horsetrading before passage and Gov's signature

After an unusually long wait, both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on school aid issued their alternatives to the budget proposed by Gov. Snyder in February. As expected, the two legislative chambers made moves to be more generous during this election year, though the details are not always so generous. When things like that happen, it's time to check your wallet.

The table below outlines some of the most important provisions of the budget, contrasting the Governor's, House, and Senate versions. As both subcommittee chairs usually say, their alternative bills are meant to "start discussions." For parents and other concerned citizens to have a voice in that discussion, we need to know what is going on and what is at stake. Use this table to familiarize yourself with the alternatives and then join the discussion with gusto. There's lots to choose from.

Things to note:

  • Diversions from the School Aid Fund to the community college and higher education budgets, which used to be covered by the general state budget before Gov. Snyder took office, represent almost $800 million or roughly $535 per pupil in lost K-12 funding;
  • House and Senate both commit to giving for-profit cyber charters the same funding as regular schools;
  • House continues the controversial payments to private schools for "state mandates" like background checks and fire drills;
  • House and Senate also continue to fund several "pet projects" of dubious merit; House confers a blessing on a particular preschool curriculum published by a for-profit company.

This is your government at work! But ask yourself: who, precisely, are they working for?

Provision Executive recommendation (revised) House alternative
(HB 5579 H-1, Article I of omnibus bill, as passed House)
Senate alternative
(SB 863 S-1, as passed Senate)
Total State spending for K-12 education $13,011,225,300 $13,100,445,600 $13,008,106,800
Federal K-12 funds
(all restricted to specific uses)
$1,724,743,500 $1,724,743,500 $1,724,743,500
School Aid Fund dollars diverted to: Community College budget $405,015,500 (100% of budget) $408,215,500 (100%) $405,015,500 (99%)
to Higher Education budget $385,688,300 (25% of budget) $385,688,300 (24%) $385,688,300 (25%)
The "Sweetener"
Foundation allowance Increase between $120 and $240, using 2x formula. New minimum of $7,871 (3.1% increase); new state maximum of $8,409 (1.4%). Inflation projected at 1.9%. Same as executive Increase between $115 and $230 under 2x formula
ISD Special Education Millage Equalization Maintains spending of $37.8 million to guarantee a minimum amount of revenue per mill, with limits on Wayne County's share of the total. Same as executive Increases total appropriation by $4.5 million
Transportation funding Continues $5 million appropriation for districts with 7.3 pupils per square mile or less (roughly $45 per pupil). Same as executive Increases spending by $1 million, increasing limit to 7.7 pupils per sq. mile, and grant to about $50 per pupil.
Things that survived
At-risk funding (extra funds for students living in poverty) Maintains new distribution formula that includes all districts, and current year spending level (less than originally requested) of $499 million. Expands early literacy mandate and requires implementation of multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS). Same as executive, with different details on early literacy requirements and no MTSS mandate. Maintains current law.
High School per pupil bonus Spends $11 million to give districts an extra $25 per pupil for every high school student (grades 9-12), to account for the higher costs of running high school programs. (Half of original proposal) Same as executive. Same as executive
(Mostly) Good Ideas The Legislature Nixed or Reduced
Partnership model districts Increases spending, from $6 million to $8 million, to support the MDE's "school partnership model" which involves active intervention and consultation with struggling schools and districts, before any state takeover. Does not include increase Does not include increase. Withholds $400 million of foundation allowance spending to partnership districts, requiring these districts to meet various conditions to receive their full funding. Conditions include "measurable academic outcomes" targets for 1.5 and 3 years, with a school to be closed or "reconstituted" if these targets are not met.
Per-pupil funding for cyber charters Reduced to 75% of minimum foundation for "brick and mortar" schools, or $5,903 No change - same as all other schools No change - same as all other schools
"Marshall Plan" for Talent Proposed combining new and current spending for various career and technical, and competency-based, programs funded by a new Talent Investment Fund for a total of $100 million Agrees with spending levels but with different program details. Agrees with executive.
Things That Should Have Been Cut, But Weren't
Shared-time instruction for private and homeschool students Converts state support to a categorical payment, caps eligible non-public school pupil payments to 5% of the providing district's enrollment, and excludes kindergarten. Also requires that courses offered to private schools be available to district pupils. Results in cut to $64.1 million, from $132 million. Keeps current law - does not include other restrictions proposed by Executive. Keeps current, but lowers limit to 0.67 FTE payment per private pupil served (reimbursed at minimum foundation allowance level) and also excludes kindergarten, reducing cost by $15.7 million. Also caps annual growth in district claims to 10%.
Reimbursements to private schools for state "mandates" Eliminates this $2.5 million item, currently under legal challenge (by a coalition of education groups including MIPFS) Maintains current funding (subcommittee chair Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Twp., inserted this provision two years ago). Includes $100 "placeholder" for negotiation purposes.
Value-added growth model Eliminates current $2.5 million for a statewide "value-added growth and projection analytics system" to use in teacher evaluations. House retains the program, and awards to current vendor. Retains program.
Legal action against the state Repeals provisions added last year that would penalize any district or ISD which spent funds on a legal action against the state by deducting that amount from state aid payments. (This was perhaps motivated by the recent suit filed by many education groups, including Kalamazoo Public Schools, contesting the legality of the reimbursements to private schools described above. MIPFS is a party to that suit.) Maintains current law. Maintains current law.
Collective bargaining agreement penalty Repeals section added lat year that would impose a penalty of 5% of state aid for any district or ISD which approved a contract including any of several items which are prohibited, including automatic deduction of union dues. Maintains current law. Maintains current law.
Online algebra "tool" Eliminates $1.1 million funding for this item Championed by subcommittee chair Kelly, House increases funding to $1.5 million, which goes to the one company which effectively received this earmark (Algebra Nation) Increases funding to $1.5 million.
Online math program Eliminates program to spend $1 million for statewide access to an online mathematics tool. Retains program and retains spending increases appropriation to $1.5 million, awarding new funds to contractor selected last year, Imagine Math. Maintains spending, includes placeholder for a Spanish-language version.
Other earmarks and pet projects Would eliminate $250,000 targeted STEM-related grant to the Van Andel Education Institute, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit specifically named in the current year's budget.
  • Adds $250,000 grant to "a district that works with a dyslexia center" to pilot multisensory structured language education
  • Mandates, in statute, that a particular early childhood curriculum, "Connect4Learning," published by a for-profit company, must now be the only approved curriculum for GSRP programs, prohibiting widely respected programs like High/Scope. "The Creative Curriculum," may not be used in GRSP programs.
  • Retains $150,000 for Van Andel Institute
  • Adds $25,000 to the Dana Center for "innovations to create seamless transtitions through the K-14 system for all students"
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