Inadequate funding – even in affluent districts – still short-changes students

Many people assume that of all 20 Kent County public school districts, Forest Hills has the most money to spend on their students.

In a way that’s right, and in a way that’s wrong.

The suburban district of nearly 10,000 students received $8,409 in the state-funded, per-student foundation allowance this school year, along with Caledonia. That’s the highest allocation in Kent ISD, and $538 more per student than the 14 districts in our area receiving the minimum state foundation allowance of $7,871 per pupil.

But what you may not know is that Forest Hills is getting less money per student than it did 10 years ago, despite mounting costs, inflation and occasional small increases in state funding.

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Numerous People & Groups Speak Up About State Budget Proposal

LANSING, Mich. — A number of groups and individuals shared their opinions on the Governor’s State Budget:

If passed, Gov. Whitmer’s budget plan would triple the state’s number of literacy coaches and create a weighted formula to improve classroom resources for:

  • Special education needs
  • Low-income and at-risk children
  • Career and Technical Education programs

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PRESS RELEASE: Michigan business, education leaders respond to Senate K-12 budget

LANSING, Mich.  — The following are statements from Michigan business and education leaders who serve on the School Finance Research Collaborative reacting to today’s Senate K-12 and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approval of a 2020 school budget plan.

Dr. Randy Liepa, Wayne RESA superintendent

“The state Senate’s K-12 budget represents a missed opportunity to begin fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach and give all students the same opportunity to get a solid education and compete for jobs. I encourage lawmakers from both parties to support the School Finance Research Collaborative research, which makes clear that it’s time for a new approach that helps all students achieve and succeed.”

Doug Maibach, Barton Malow Enterprises chairman

“It’s time to close Michigan’s talent gap, and I encourage the Legislature to support Gov. Whitmer’s weighted funding approach that includes additional resources for Career and Technical Education programs that provide students with skills necessary to compete for in-demand jobs. The governor’s plan also provides additional resources to help prepare low-income and at-risk students for 21st century careers, providing all students the same opportunity to compete for good-paying jobs.”

Jim Stapleton, Detroit-area businessman

“Our state’s K-12 school funding approach is broken, and it’s hampering our state’s continued economic resurgence, as well as our children’s futures. Time has long since passed for this subject to be addressed and I urge legislators on both sides of the aisle to support Gov. Whitmer’s 2020 school aid budget. This is not a partisan or political issue. From Ishpeming to Detroit, the need for a fairer approach to this important topic could not be clearer.”

Rob Fowler, Small Business Association of Michigan CEO

“Michigan businesses rely on our public schools to provide students with the skills needed to fill jobs across the state, and I encourage the Legislature to support a weighted funding system that serves the needs of all students. Michigan needs a new, fairer school funding approach that helps prepare all students for success, including those bound for technical school, apprenticeships or jobs right after graduation.”

Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark, Newaygo County RESA superintendent

“I encourage the Legislature to pass a 2020 school aid budget that serves the unique, individual learning needs of all students, regardless of where they attend school, income, learning challenges or other circumstances. The School Finance Research Collaborative has provided lawmakers with the roadmap to fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach. Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its part and pass a budget that helps all students achieve and succeed.”

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded. Read the full Collaborative report.


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

Michigan must fix school funding model for students to shine

Our one-size-fits all funding formula ignores the reality that every child is unique. The formula hasn’t kept up with rapidly changing technological or social changes. If we take into consideration each child’s individual needs, individual outcomes will be better and our schools will be successful. Ensure that a student in the Upper Peninsula has access to online learning opportunities with broadband, provide meals to a student who comes to school hungry. Don’t consider funding for special education something “extra.”

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Michigan’s school funding approach needs a facelift

As president of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research for 25 years, I witnessed a growing gap between the demands of the modern workforce and the skills of students graduating from Michigan’s K-12 public education system.

This gap is bad for our kids, bad for business and bad for Michigan.

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Michigan schools need a fairer funding model for all students

As Superintendent of Wayne RESA, I read with great interest a recent Bridge guest commentary by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

While there has been dueling commentary over the past several years about whether funding for Michigan schools has increased or decreased, school officials doing the actual work in local districts know clearly what has happened over the past many years.

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