Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fact Check: K-12 funding

With Governor Snyder's proposed budget released today, the competing claims that he has increased funding to public schools and slashed funding to public schools are front and center.  Jonathan Oosting from took on this question in and teased out the exaggerations made by both sides.

The takeaway?
State school aid spending is up since Snyder took office, whether or not you count federal funds or retirement payments, but the $660 per-pupil figure doesn't tell the whole story. A large chunk of state spending now is going to retirement costs and doesn't necessarily make it into the classroom. The minimum per-pupil funding allowance is down since Snyder took office, and many schools have fewer students. [Fact check: Did Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder cut $1 billion from education or add $660 per student?,, February 5, 2014.]
So, what does that mean.  The most positive thing that can be said about investment in K-12 education during the Snyder administration is that "State school aid spending is up since Snyder took office."  But, as Oosting points out, that does not mean money going to class rooms:

Overall state spending is up, but that doesn't necessarily mean all of that money is making it into the classroom. The minimum per-pupil foundation allowance -- the money schools automatically get based on enrollment -- has dropped from an effective rate of $7,146 in 2011 to $7,026 in 2014.
As Bean noted in his analysis, "the foundation allowance and 'per pupil' funding are no longer synonymous. Now, instead of just the foundation allowance being sent to schools, people, including the governor's number crunchers, are rolling in spending on things like" MPSERS.
MPSERS is a state retirement plan.  So, while state funds used to go directly to schools, now a large portion of state funds are being taken from schools and put into the retirement plan. Remember that because of Proposal A, districts cannot raise operating revenue locally.  What is "Proposal A," and how does it effect my school?, Okemos Parents for Schools, June 10, 2013.

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