Op-Ed: Special education funding is unequal

In June 2016, when Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to provide a financial bailout for the old Detroit Public Schools and set up a new debt-free school district, many lawmakers were hopeful that the long-running fiscal problems of Michigan’s largest and most challenged school district were now in the rearview mirror. Yet that hope is far from reality. A problem left unaddressed in the legislative package was Michigan’s approach to financing special education services, and that omission has the real possibility of derailing the fresh start provided to Detroit’s primary public school option.

The problems start with a familiar problem for those struggling to carry out what we’ve come to know as unfunded mandates. Special education students are entitled to “free and appropriate educational services in the least restrictive environment” and a complex web of federal and state laws largely mandate the services that districts must provide to these students, often without consideration of the costs involved.

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Esky looks at school funding changes

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board discussed the School Finance Research Collaborative during its regular meeting Monday evening. The collaborative, a research team consisting of a diverse group of business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula, is reexamining the way Michigan schools are funded. Superintendent Coby Fletcher read from the research’s resolution Monday.

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Letter: What does it cost to teach a student

As an executive in the construction industry, I rely heavily on Michigan’s K-12 public schools to provide top-notch talent to keep my business running strong. A high-quality public school education is also essential to continue Michigan’s economic comeback.

In its recent editorial, “Examining the crisis in Michigan’s schools,” the Detroit News accurately noted that Michigan is at the bottom in reading and other student performance nationwide. That includes students in inner-cities and rural centers as much as those in the suburbs, regardless of household income, race or other circumstances.

But what will it cost to improve student achievement and prepare our kids for the 21st century workforce?

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Mid-Michigan educators support evaluation of student funding

The question of how much it really costs to educate a child in a Michigan public school district is being asked among administrators across the state.

One way the government provides funds to districts is via a biannual student count done in February and the first Wednesday in October; the count in October is the one funding is based on.

However, educators across Michigan are asking if the funds are enough.

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Equitable funding tops Grand Rapids School Board legislative wish list

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – West Michigan lawmakers will meet with leaders of Grand Rapids Public Schools during a luncheon Monday, Dec. 11, to hear what they need to help students reach their full potential.

The school board has a wish list of more than two dozen legislative priorities for 2017-18. However, its top priority is lobbying for a new funding formula.

School board president Wendy Falb said the lack of progress on the equitable funding of public schools in Michigan is troubling.

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How much does it cost to educate a student? Some educators say it’s time to revisit school funding

Michigan school districts tallied up how many students they had on Count Day, which was Oct. 4 this year.

At stake for the districts across the state – including 28 public school districts in Oakland County – is the money to educate the students they counted.

But 24 years after Michigan law changed to shift school funding away from property taxes to a system based on the number of students a district has, a coalition wants to take a look at school funding again, specifically how much it really costs to educate each child.

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PRESS RELEASE: Skillman Foundation awards $50,000 grant toward effort to reexamine school funding

DETROIT, Mich. — The Skillman Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the School Finance Research Project, an effort to help determine the true cost of educating a student in Michigan, regardless of income, location or other circumstances. The project is an initiative of the School Finance Research Collaborative, a statewide, bipartisan and diverse group of business leaders and education experts who agree it’s time to reexamine how we fund Michigan’s public schools.

“Michigan used to be a national leader in education. Now we’re at the bottom,” said Tonya Allen, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation and a Collaborative member. “Reexamining how our state’s public schools are funded is crucial to ensuring that our children are prepared to succeed and lead. There is no greater investment we could make for our state, and for our nation, than to develop a smart and innovative citizenry.”

The Skillman Foundation grant will support the Collaborative’s school adequacy study, now underway, which will help determine the cost of providing a quality education to all Michigan public school students. Adequacy studies often include geographic cost differences, labor cost differences, and analysis of geographic isolation, among other factors.

The School Finance Research Collaborative’s study, expected in early 2018, is being conducted by the nation’s top two school finance research firms, and will provide policymakers with the best, most complete and most accurate information on the true cost of educating all Michigan students. The new study is utilizing multiple methodologies to reexamine how Michigan’s schools are funded.

Michigan joins more than 30 other states that have conducted comprehensive adequacy studies over the past 15 years, many conducting multiple studies.


For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1