|Why will funding roads take money from schools?|
So, what's up with roads and schools?
First off, let me thank the hundreds of you who have already contacted your State Representatives about road funding and the threat to our schools. Your message is important and is getting through.
Many people have asked for a bit more information about this whole deal - and I certainly understand, because it's somewhat complicated. I'm reprinting our earlier action alert below, but let me sketch out what is happening on this issue:
Budgets as they emerged from each chamber are a mixed bag for schools
Both houses of the State Legislature passed their own versions of the K-12 School Aid budget this past week, and the political horse-trading can now begin. While the versions are quite similar, there are important differences that will affect how schools are funded and how much Michigan is able to expand its preschool programs targeted to low-income families. The total amount of proposed spending, however, does not exceed the Gov. Snyder's proposal, and in fact the Senate version comes in some $10 million lower than that.
Both versions of the budgets also include items that worry many supporters of local public education. Provisions requiring districts to permit and pay for students to take online courses from nearly any vendor are reminiscent of "Oxford report" proposals to "unbundle" public education, making local districts a thing of the past. Money earmarked for technology-driven student-centered instruction is seen as a "gift" to the financially troubled and controversial Education Achievement Authority, which the governor and legislative leaders hope to build into a state authority to take over "failing" schools.
As things stand, local school districts can expect a net cut of between $2 and $52 per pupil, though the details vary considerably. Final versions of the budget will not be ready until after the May consensus revenue estimation conference, when top state economists make tax revenue projections for the coming year.
Time to stop playing games with school funding - budget options range from bad to worse
Fibbing or Funding
The only game show where your school always gets less than your children deserve!
Just before going on their two week spring break, the legislature moved along two key pieces of education legislation.
Two critical bills moved forward in the state House over the last few weeks. They will both have important effects on our public schools, but in different ways:
- The House Appropriations subcommittee on School Aid passed a revised version of the Governor’s school aid budget proposal that maintains the same level of spending but actually increases the effective per-pupil cut for most districts.
- The House Education Committee reported out the EAA expansion bill on a mostly party-line vote, and the bill passed the full House just before the break after frantic lobbying by EAA supporters.
After a welcome break over the holidays, our Legislature is back at work. Unfortunately, these days, that's not a good thing.
In this issue:
- School Aid Budget - Magical numbers from the CPA-in-chief
- EAA - We know how to turn schools around. Trust us.
- A la carte school funding proposal not so popular on the menu
- A parents' vision for public education
Testimony on the Fiscal 2014 School Aid Executive Budget proposal
Prepared for House Appropriations subcommittee on School Aid, 19 February 2013
Drawing on the data we used in an earlier article about the Governor’s budget proposal – Eleven percent increase in schools since 2009-10? Not so much. – MIPFS testified before the Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid earlier this week. Our purpose was to point out that the executive budget proposal did not represent an increase in funding available for school operations, despite rhetoric to the contrary. Funding levels were actually much lower than in previous periods, especially after taking inflation into account, despite the smaller number of pupils.
MIPFS called for a significant, real investment in preschool through secondary education so that our public schools could do the job we have asked of them.
In his budget presentation to the State Legislature, Gov. Rick Snyder billed the education portion as making an investment in Michigan. He described increased spending on preschool – a good thing – and efforts to limit the costs of the public school employee pension system – the burden of which falls mostly on current and future retirees. But he also claimed that the state government had increased spending on K-12 education by 11% over the last four years, including his new proposal. He even had a slide to “illustrate” the point.
Now, with the Governor’s focus on being a “nerd,” and the budget materials all identifying him as a Certified Public Accountant as well as Governor, you might think that all these numbers pretty much reflect reality. But as we have learned over the last decade, to our cost, financial numbers can be “massaged” to tell different stories depending on the audience.
Gov. Snyder, CPA, was engaged in a litte bit of what they call “earnings management.” A closer look at K-12 spending shows a different, and more accurate, picture. We need to keep the true picture in mind as we discuss the performance of our public schools.
“Critics often say ‘the governor is trying to destroy public education as we know it,’ [Lansing attorney Richard] McLellan said. ‘That’s accurate.’”
Well, there it is. Doesn’t get much more “straight from the horse’s mouth” than coming from Lansing attorney and longtime political operative Richard McLellan. As a leader of the obscure Oxford Foundation, Mr. McLellan led the effort to devise a radically altered way of funding K-12 education for Gov. Snyder. He is also the author of the controversial Education Achievement Authority bill now in the legislature, as well as a proposal to dramatically increase the types of charter school that would receive public funding in Michigan. Some twelve years ago, he also spearheaded a constitutional amendment that would have permitted school vouchers in Michigan, which was defeated handily by the voters.
This radical package of proposals is in danger of being overlooked in the wake of today’s protests over a “right to work” bill and the use of pepper spray by police to subdue protesters visiting the Capitol to express their anger at that proposal.
Click below to read more.
UPDATE: 14 June. The state House of Representatives today passed a revised version of SB 1040, a bill that aims to restructure the public school employee retirement system. The changes in this compromise bill are less dramatic than those proposed in the Senate version, but they still represent a substantial change in retirement benefits for future employees and increased costs for current employees. While some financial pressure is being taken off local school districts, the added costs of the transition will still come out of the School Aid Fund. Absent other measures to increase revenues to the SAF, this bill will not remove the burden on the education budget in the near term.
However, the state Senate, which had approved a version forcing all new employees into a defined contribution plan, adjourned for their summer break today without voting on the bill. They resume session on 18 July.
Budget bill main provisions: final conference report compared to Governor's proposal and House and Senate versions