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May 7, 2014

Proposal will put money back in classrooms, educators say

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

LANSING — Voters polled in a survey conducted April 21 by the Glengariff Group, Inc., are in favor of a proposal educators say would put funding back into the classroom.

According to the poll, three quarters of Michigan voters support “Classrooms and Kids,” a proposal that proponents say would redirect more money in the classrooms and preserve local control. According to the poll, superintendents, principals, local school boards and others developed and support the plan.

According to the proposal, Classrooms and Kids provides a $250-$291 increase in per-pupil funding by eliminating $186 million in funds that provide extra money to schools that perform better on test scores and demonstrate they are performing best practices.

The Glengariff Group specializes in strategic planning and market research, and has offices in St. Joseph, Michigan, and Chicago. On Feb. 27, a group of Michigan educators submitted a letter of support for the Classrooms and Kids plan to the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder in hopes state policy makers will take notice.

“For years, Michigan schools have struggled with reduced funding and budget cuts, and the Classrooms and Kids plan will help us stabilize class sizes, hire more teachers and staff, and protect programs like sports and music without raising taxes,” Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois said. “Michigan voters see firsthand what’s happening in our communities, and that’s why they support Classrooms and Kids. We urge policymakers to do the same.”

“The Classrooms and Kids’ plan is about preserving local control of our schools’ money by giving local communities the flexibility they need, and voters understand that,” Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch. “Local school leaders and parents are better prepared to make the right decisions about how to spend money for our kids’ education.”

The proposal comes after many years of school district officials statewide cutting staff and programs to balance their budgets. Funding for public education is tied to the economy, and schools have experienced decreases in funding for several years from Lansing because of the state’s economic downturn.

The poll was conducted April 12-14 with 600 registered Michigan voters and has a margin of errors of 4 percentage points. Thirty percent of the interviewing was done on cellphones, while 70 percent were conducted on landline phones.

The Classrooms and Kids Coalition commissioned the survey.

Voters also were asked if the state of Michigan spends too much money, the right amount of money or needed to spend more money on kindergarten through 12th-grade education. According to the poll, 69.1 percent said Michigan needs to spend more money; 19.1 percent said the state spends the right amount of money; and 6.8 percent said Michigan spends too much money.

In the survey, nearly 74 percent of voters polled said school accountability should be driven at the local level, not through the K-12 funding process at the state level.

Of those surveyed, 50.3 were female and 49.7 were male. About 30.5 percent were Democrats; 5.4 percent leaned Democratic; 24 percent were Republicans; 6 percent leaned toward the Republican Party; and 31.2 considered themselves Independents. The remaining percentage of those polled weren’t listed as belonging to any political party.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.