Center Line, Warren
Per-pupil funding may increase next year
Lawmakers working on proposed budget
By Maria Allard
Posted May 17, 2017
LANSING — There is the possibility that public schools in Michigan may receive an increase of $100 per student in per-pupil funding next year.
On May 2, the House of Representatives voted 60-47 in favor of a general proposed budget, which includs an increase in the School Aid Fund budget. The School Aid Fund budget is the portion of the budget that addresses funding for K-12 schools, community colleges and higher education.
State Rep. Patrick Green, D-Warren, voted “no” on both the House School Aid Fund and general proposed budgets because he said it would cut $3.5 million in projected dollars to schools located in his 28th District, which includes Warren Consolidated, Fitzgerald, Warren Woods, Center Line and Van Dyke public schools.
While Green said a $100 increase “is good,” it’s not enough “when you look back on how much (schools) have lost over the years.” Because of the state’s economic downturn in recent years, less per-pupil funding — also known as state aid — has been made available, although there have been increases in district expenses, including those of utility, supply and employee retirement costs. Over the years, many districts have cut staff and programs in order to balance their budgets.
“It is short-sighted to call this budget a win for our schools when we, as a legislative body, wasted an opportunity to really show our support for teachers and students in Michigan,” Green said. “Instead, this budget diverts state funds away from the classroom, allocating them toward cyber and private schools.”
According to Green, Democrats who voted the proposed budget down offered several alternatives to more closely align the budget with the priorities of the residents of Michigan while balancing the budget.
“We had several amendments. Some were not taken up,” Green said. “The budget as passed reflects a consistent, systemic underfunding of our public schools, a priority for the vast majority of families in Warren and Center Line. We have a responsibility to ensure our students, teachers and staff are given the tools they need to succeed.”
The proposed budget — voted on by both the House and Senate — is a work in progress and has moved on to the conference committee for review and will eventually go to Gov. Rick Snyder for final approval.
“It’s not done yet,” Green said.
State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, which covers the township and parts of Macomb and Clinton townships, voted in favor of the budget.
“I voted it out of committee to keep the process moving,” he said. “It’s just part of the process. I don’t think you can ever have enough money go to the classrooms. It’s always a concern.”
He said that when the budget comes out of conference committee, it will be much different from the original one that lawmakers voted on May 2 and it won’t necessarily mean another “yes” vote from him.
“It has to be different, otherwise it doesn’t pass,” Marino said, adding that he believes the $100 proposed increase in per-pupil funding will remain. “I think there’s a strong commitment to ensure we have that.”
Local public school educators are constantly keeping an eye on Lansing regarding school funding. The proposed budget also includes additional funding to help students considered at-risk, including those who are homeless, migrant or in foster care.
“It is very difficult to comment on the Executive, House and Senate budget proposals because there are many factors that will impact the outcome of the final budget,” Fitzgerald Public Schools Superintendent Barbara VanSweden said in an email. “From Fitzgerald’s point of view, we have the potential to gain up to an additional $100 per student. We commend all three budgets on the increase in the at-risk funding. We are waiting, like all districts, to see the end result.”
About the author
Staff Writer Maria Allard covers the school districts of Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke, Warren Consolidated and Warren Woods, and Macomb Community College for the Warren Weekly newspaper. She also covers the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public Schools System for the Grosse Pointe Times newspaper. Allard has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University, and she is in love with the Rolling Stones.
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