Governor signs school funding bill in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 9, 2021

 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that appropriates $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding to support schools across the state the morning of July 7 at Ojibwa Elementary School in Macomb Township.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that appropriates $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding to support schools across the state the morning of July 7 at Ojibwa Elementary School in Macomb Township.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — On July 7, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill in the media center at Ojibwa Elementary that appropriates $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding to support schools across the state.

The Democrat governor was joined by students and educators to sign what the state calls a “historic school funding bill into law.”

House Bill 4421 distributes over $4 billion from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, to power schools’ efforts to get students back on track.

“A total of $841 million comes from ESSER II funding from December 2020, while $3.3 billion comes from ESSER III funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan,” a press release from the state notes.  

At the signing, Whitmer said she has long been a passionate supporter of public schools.

“This is about critical investment in our kids, teachers, parapros, administration and all the different pieces that make public education work for our children,” she said.

The bill represents supplemental funding for the current year budget. Whitmer said in the coming days, she will sign a school budget that funds schools for the upcoming academic year.  

“Students need comprehensive recovery that is tailored to their needs,” Whitmer said.

During the pandemic, the governor said that, in classrooms across the state, educators found new ways to motivate students.

“We saw teachers doing remarkable things, building communities and supporting students through the unimaginable that we all confronted,” Whitmer said.

She added that the resources are a great start but are a one-time boost for schools, noting that ongoing funding is essential.   

On June 30, it was announced the Michigan Legislature passed the School Aid Bill.

This bill, separate from what was signed by Whitmer July 7, expands the Great Start Readiness preschool program and connects more students to counselors, psychologists and nurses in their schools.

“It closes the funding gap between schools in Michigan, a goal we have been working toward for almost 30 years,” Whitmer said. “This is a big deal. This is a good deal.”   

Each school district in the state will have a per-pupil grant of $8,700. Prior to the bill, Chippewa Valley Schools received $8,111.

ESSER funds will be distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocation.

“More money will get to districts that serve students with the highest need,” Whitmer said. “What schools do with these resources matters tremendously.”

Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said the bill is wonderful for public schools.

“Chippewa has always been one of the highest enrollment school districts in Michigan at the lowest possible funding level,” he said.

To his knowledge, he said the visit was Whitmer’s first to the district as governor.

Roberts thanked the governor and the Macomb legislative delegation for its bipartisan effort to come together on behalf of Michigan students to get it done.

He added that ESSER funds will provide the district with the resources for a safe and successful in-person school opening in the fall.   

“For this to happen in our building, it’s a big honor for our community,” Ojibwa Principal Leo Kondziolka told C&G Newspapers. “Anytime you have an elected official as high ranking as Governor Whitmer in our building, it’s special.”

A press release from the Macomb Intermediate School District states that the bipartisan budget negotiations led to a victory for schools and children across the state.  

“Macomb County legislators played a central role in advocating for a more equitable funding formula and were successful in bringing additional funds to Macomb County students,” the release reads.

“During the past year, many of our families, educators and businesses have faced significant challenges and hardships, but remain supportive and available to our schools,” Macomb County Intermediate School District Superintendent Michael DeVault said. “While much work remains, we are grateful for the governor’s leadership and the support of our legislative delegation from Macomb County.”

Learn more about state recovery efforts in regard to schools by visiting michigan.gov/studentrecovery.

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