Thursday, September 12, 2013

As funding has decreased, schools have been plunged into deficit

Chart from Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities.
There are lots of claims out of Lansing about increasing funding to K-12 education.  They aren't true.  Funding to K-12 education has been devastated in recent years.  Because of Proposal A (see background information here), important operating expenses such as teacher salaries cannot be paid for with locally raised money.  The fallout is apparent in districts all over the state.

First, the false claims of increased funding to K-12 education.  They're not true:
Michigan has cut investment in K-12 schools by 9 percent since 2008, a deeper cut than 33 other states, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. [Study: Michigan cut school funding more than 33 other states since '08, Detroit News, September 12, 2013]
Since 2008, Michigan has slashed an inflation adjusted $572 per student. Last year alone Michigan cut K-12 funding another half a percent.  Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 12, 2013.  The modest cuts this year come after massive cuts at the beginning of the Snyder administration. 

Schools all over Michigan have built new buildings and are spending money on technology.  But these expenditures can be paid for with locally raised revenue.  Because of Proposal A, public schools cannot pay their operating expenses with locally raised revenue.  That money must come from the state's per pupil allowance.  Schools are feeling the sting of these cuts.

Ann Arbor has some of the state's best public schools.  But cuts are hitting Ann Arbor hard as they are laying off teachers and class sizes are pushing 40 students:
[James] Svensson, a clinical social worker at the University of Michigan, said his daughter came home from the first day of school "shocked" at how many students she was sharing class with.
In her accelerated geometry class, there are 38 students in her section, Svensson said. In another section, there are 41 students. History and German classes at Pioneer are also seeing class sizes larger than 38 students.
“There’s only so much time a teacher has,” Svensson said, stating he fears that the quality of education at AAPS will slip as a result of the staff cuts. [Ann Arbor schools coping with standing-room-only classes, smaller staff, The Ann Arbor News, Sept. 10, 2013.]
In all, 56 school districts are now operating with budget deficits.  There are urban schools included.  But there are also rural and suburban communities which have traditionally invested in their schools such as Brighton, Mason County Eastern, and Pinckney Community Schools. Pinckney, got 10 percent across the board pay reductions to make up the deficit, but the state rejected the plan, saying 10 percent pay reductions were not enough.
[Superintendent Rick Todd] said fixing the deficit is challenging because the district is losing students. The district has seen its enrollment decline by 1,000 in the past decade.
The other frustration came when the state cut its per-pupil funding by $470 per student two years ago. Pinckney took a roughly $1.8 million hit to its revenues with that reduction.
“That put the nail in the coffin,” Todd said. [Pinckney deficit plan denied, Livingston, Sept. 7, 2013.]
All this after the state dissolved the Saginaw Buena Vista School district and the Inkster school districts. Snyder signs bill that spells end for Buena Vista and Inkster schools,, July 2, 2013.  The state also effectively dissolved the Muskegon Height School District as it fired every employee in the district and handed over management to a charter company.

1 comment:

  1. U.S. children score lower on standardized tests than students in many developed countries. The U.S. ranks 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, behind countries such as Slovenia and Poland.

    Within the United States, Michigan students are, at best, average. Take your pick of data:
    •Education Week ranked Michigan’s k-12 education system 24th
    •U.S. News & World Report tabs Michigan 28th in the percent of schools earning gold and silver status in the magazine’s annual school rankings
    •Michigan is 23rd in high school graduation rate and 36th in percent of adults with a college diploma.
    •Michigan kids are 39th in 4th-grade math and 30th in 8th –grade reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.

    Those numbers didn’t matter as much in past generations when Michigan was known for its low-education, high-wage jobs in the auto industry. But today, those same statistics raise uncomfortable questions: How well are Michigan students prepared for a world where a good education is virtually a prerequisite to enter the middle class?

    (From The Bridge: The Center for Michigan

    I am really glad that Okemos, Haslett & E. Lansing schools score considerably higher than Michigan as a whole. We are fortunate to live in a community with a strong commitment to funding public schools and providing a quality education to all students.
    Brett Dreyfus
    Meridian Township Clerk