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Whitmer signs K-12 education funding bill

Governor Whitmer Signing a new K-12 funding Bill
Posted at 1:46 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 13:46:31-04

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed the School Aid budget into law in the presence of students, educators, and school administrators at Kentwood Public Schools. The signing of House Bill 4411 marks a historical moment for the state by reaching the goal of eliminating the funding gap between districts at the minimum and maximum foundation allowances, as set forth by Proposal A of 1994. The bill finalizes the fiscal year 2022 School Aid budget, which totals $17.1 billion including $85.4 million from the state’s general fund, and provides cost adjustments and supplemental funding for the current 2021 year.

RELATED: Michigan Legislature approves major boost in K-12 funding

“As we look to the next school year and beyond, we know that every student deserves to be funded at the same level to ensure an equal opportunity to succeed, and I am proud to say that we are able to do that today,” said Governor Whitmer. “The funding provided to our schools today marks the end of a 27-year journey to close the gap between our districts. This equalized funding will improve the quality of educational opportunities for schools and students across the state and set a solid foundation for which to build our future.”

The budget includes $723 million to eliminate the gap between the minimum and maximum foundation allowance by setting both at $8,700 per pupil, an increase of $589 per pupil from the current year minimum amount, and an increase of $171 per pupil from the current year target amount. In addition, intermediate school districts receive a 4% operational funding increase.

“The pandemic has highlighted many differences for students across the state, from technology to infrastructure,” said Michigan Teacher of the Year Owen Bondono. “All students deserve access to high-quality teaching, resources, and educational spaces, and this budget helps ensure an effective education no matter where you live and attend school.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on K-12 Spending Bill

The FY 2022 School Aid budget also increases access to early education through the Great Start Readiness Program, which provides preschool to families at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The new investment includes $121 million in federal funding and $47.5 million from the School Aid Fund, for a total investment of $168.5 million. The full-day per child allocation is increased from $7,250 to $8,700 and additional funding is provided to expand the program. The expansion is the first of a three-year phase-in which seeks to ensure access to 22,000 additional income-eligible children by the fourth year.

“This expansion will provide broad access to critical early education programs for thousands of Michigan families,” said Governor Whitmer. “When we provide for comprehensive preschool programing, it not only sets the student up for a lifetime of success, but it has a direct and positive impact on the student’s families and the communities where they live.”

“Every budget is about choices. This budget expands Great Start Readiness Program pre-kindergarten and puts in place a three-year plan to move to universal pre-kindergarten for all eligible students, the first goal of the state’s Top 10 strategic education plan and a gift that will keep on giving throughout the education and lives of our children,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Additionally, this budget improves school funding adequacy, part of the eighth goal of the state’s Top 10 strategic education plan in a state that has profoundly underfunded public education for the last two decades. Finally, this budget provides more funding for student mental health, part of the third goal of the state’s Top 10 strategic education plan.”

Governor Whitmer signing a K-12 funding bill

In addition to closing the gap and increasing access to preschool programing, the 2022 School Aid Budget makes strategic investments in the follow:

  • The budget recognizes the need for additional school counselors, psychologists, nurses, and social workers by providing $240 million over 3 years for additional hirings in high-need districts. After 3 years, these new hires are fully funded in an ongoing manner by the district.
  • The mental health of our students continues to be a top priority. This budget provides an increase of $17 million to support school-based mental health programming which will help ensure our students have access to the resources they need to live happy and healthy lives.
  • Additional investments for Special Education in the amount of $74.2 million will ensure our students and educators can excel in the classroom.
  • The budget also provides funds for students who need them the most through a weighted funding formula which distributes education dollars more equitably:
  • Maintains funding for economically disadvantaged and adds $1.5 million for dental screenings.
  • Supports for English Language Learners are increased by 4% and proration of funding is eliminated with an investment of $12.2 million.
  • Small, rural, and isolated districts receive a $1.4 million increase, bringing total added funding to $8.4 million.
  • The budget incentivizes districts to adopt a year-round school calendar by helping to provide for HVAC and infrastructure improvements that will improve learning spaces. An investment of $75 million in federal funding will assist in providing matching grants and $60 million from the School Aid Fund will increase foundation allowances for eligible districts by 3% for three years.
  • To better gauge student progress and intervention needs, the budget includes $11.5 million for benchmark assessments.
  • The budget includes $10 million to support school safety initiatives. Funding provides up to $50,000 per school building or $250,000 per school district.
  • Support for children impacted by the drinking water emergency in Flint is increased by $2.4 million.

“Today the governor is signing a bill that will make a world of difference for our public schools – not just helping them recover from the impact of COVID-19, but looking beyond that to building a brighter future for students,” said David Hecker, President of AFT Michigan. “This is what we get when both sides of the aisle work hard to find common ground. This is what we get when Democrats and Republicans say ‘What do our students need? Now let’s get it done.’ Because of the leadership of Governor Whitmer, and Republican and Democratic leadership in the Senate and House in crafting this K-12 education budget, our students, our children, will benefit so very much.”

Governor Whitmer signing historic K-12 funding bill

“We’ve been especially focused on closing the funding gap between school districts in the last few budget cycles,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 and Michigan Department of Education. “On top of providing additional resources that will help teachers in the classroom and help students get back on track as we work to emerge from the pandemic, this bipartisan budget would increase per-pupil funding and ensure every school district across Michigan will receive the same amount in minimum per-pupil foundation allowance funding from the state. I’m happy we’ve finally been able to reach this milestone that levels the playing field for all Michigan students.”

“This historic K-12 funding gives our schools the resources they need to make transformational improvements in learning and help Michigan students recover after more than a year of enormous challenges,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “After nearly 30 years, we’re finally achieving the goal of closing the gap between the highest and lowest funded school districts and ensuring all our children have the support they need to succeed,”

“This budget is a bipartisan agreement that Michigan’s future will depend on the bold investments we’re willing to make in our students today,” said Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr., D-East Lansing. “I’m grateful to Governor Whitmer and my colleagues in the Legislature for recognizing this pivotal opportunity to make the largest investment in education in Michigan history.”

“This is a historic step – nearly three decades in the making -- benefitting our students and schools at a time they need help the most,” said Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “After the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, our kids need unprecedented support to catch up on lost learning and return to normalcy. This measure provides that support for kids no matter where they live or go to school.”

“Since the passage of Proposal A, lawmakers have been working on ways to close the foundation allowance gap. With a budget surplus, federal support, and the hard work of dedicated policymakers, we’ve finally reached that goal,” said state Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), Democratic vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “Coupled with the increase in Great Start funding, this K-12 budget is a historic, transformational investment in Michigan’s children that will have a positive impact for years to come.”

Elle Meyers

Elle Meyers

6:12 PM, Apr 12, 2021

State Capitol

Neighborhood Reporter

Elle Meyers

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