Budget bill main provisions: final conference report compared to Governor's proposal and House and Senate versions
Past commitments to school aid fade away
Updated with final conference report
None of the school aid budget proposals for next year offer significant help to our struggling local school districts. Overall funding is essentially flat, though the dollars are allocated differently in the various proposals. For a detailed breakdown of the final budget and the alternatives as passed by each chamber, please see this companion story.
Nevertheless, the budget bills do outline some major changes in how we fund our schools:
- Use of the School Aid Fund to support community colleges and state universities is now a permanent feature (the final conference report includes intent language to change the name of the SAF to the “Comprehensive Education Fund”);
- The commitment to maintaining the funding stream for K-12 education has been seriously eroded – for example, with the failure to replace earmarked revenue lost when the Michigan Business Tax was ended.
Where's your school funding?
State budget continues to dis-invest in education
Don't let it happen quietly! Our state lawmakers are about to pass a budget that keeps K-12 spending essentially flat, despite debilitating cuts over the last few years.
In case you aren’t on our mailing list, here is a copy of the May Legislative Update.
The topic is the state budget; included are an essay about the sad end of our state’s commitment to public education, links to recent articles on mipfs.org, an action alert on the state budget, and information about our work with the Michigan Organizing Collaborative on a statewide coalition of parent and community groups to support adequate school funding.
Both MIRS News and the Grand Rapids Press are reporting that the emergency manager running schools in Muskegon Heights has proposed replacing the public school district with a network of charter schools.
The emergency manager, Donald Weatherspoon, is proposing the conversion as part of his solution for the school district’s financial problems.
MIPFS Executive Director Steven Norton testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Retirement to express our concerns with the latest attempt to restructure the public school employee retirement system (MPSERS). An extract is below, and the full copy of his testimony is attached.
Changing the public school employee retirement system is a complex undertaking. It is too easy, however, to become lost in the details and lose track of key guiding principles.
When is an increase not really an increase? When it’s an election year budget.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year was much anticipated, but its introduction was something of an anti-climax. In his budget presentation to the Legislature, the Governor described his proposals for K-12 education as a small but solid increase in funding. Other observers, looking closely at the numbers, begged to disagree. Regardless, the governor’s budget proposal makes the recent, much-reduced funding levels permanent. What little room there is for increased funding will be occupied by incentive payments: financial carrots intended to encourage what the governor calls “best practices.” Perhaps most important, it is clear that the Snyder Administration intends to lay to rest the idea that the School Aid Fund should be reserved for K-12 education.
UPDATE: This article describes the Governor’s “executive recommendation” for the budget; versions passed out of both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees will be analyzed in a forthcoming article.
Please view the attached file to read our latest action alert on SB 619, which removes nearly all limits on completely-online “cyber” charter schools.
The bill is expected to come up for a vote in the House in the next new days, having passed the Senate last fall. MIPFS opposes the bill and calls on legislators to retain current law, which calls for a detailed report on cyber schools after two years of operation before more such schools are authorized or allowed to expand.
Follow the links from the message or from our site to take action today!
In a sometimes contentious session, the House Education committee today passed legislation that would remove most limits on the number and size of online charter schools — called “cyber schools” in Michigan. The bill, Senate Bill 619, removes the restrictions set on the number and enrollment of cyber schools when they were first allowed in legislation passed two years ago. The bill, passed by the Senate last fall, faces an uncertain future in the House.
MIPFS believes that SB 619 will open the doors to an unwise, unregulated, explosion of online charter schools. We sent this letter to all members of the House Education Committee:
On behalf of concerned parents across Michigan, we wanted to reach out to you directly as the House Education Committee approaches a vote on Senate Bill 619, removing limits on “cyber” charter schools.
We have offered testimony on this issue, and I hope you have had a chance to review the concerns prompted by other states’ experience with these entirely online K-12 schools. All those stories of poor performance and financial improprieties really boil down to one central issue, in our view.
As governments and businesses around the globe work to improve their performance, we hear one topic again and again: the need to “get the incentives right.” While we don’t believe that incentives determine everything, they are clearly a powerful force which can help, or hinder, an organization’s mission.
It is because of concerns about incentives that we have consistently argued against for-profit entities providing instructional services in any public school context. Likewise, we have called on policy makers to look beyond standardized tests as a way of evaluating teachers, administrators and schools, because of the perverse incentives a singular focus on test scores can have in any school or district.