|Chart from Center on Budget and|
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 Daily.com, 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, MLive.com, 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.