PRESS RELEASE: Michigan businesses, education experts launch effort to reexamine K-12 school funding

School Finance Research Collaborative to analyze adequacy of school funding, make policy recommendations

Lansing, MICH. — Top business and education experts today launched a comprehensive effort to reexamine how Michigan’s schools are funded. The School Finance Research Collaborative is bringing together top industry experts to reexamine the state’s approach to funding K-12 schools to ensure all students are fully prepared for jobs and success, from the inner cities to the suburbs, to rural areas and the U.P.

“Quite simply, the way we fund Michigan schools is broken,” said Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools superintendent. “Many Michigan districts are having to find ways to do more with less, and that is endangering the quality of education in our schools, making it even harder for districts to serve at-risk students, English Language Learners and students with other needs.”

Over the next year, the Collaborative will oversee a new, comprehensive school adequacy study that will create a new framework for funding Michigan’s schools to prepare all students for success in the classroom and beyond.

“We are a broad-based group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, 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,” said Rick Johnson, former Michigan House Speaker. “Politics aside, we are all committed to finding better ways to fund our schools to ensure success for all students. That’s something all of us here in Lansing, regardless of political affiliation, can get behind.”

“Michigan’s small-business community relies on our public schools to prepare students for jobs, technical education and college so they are prepared for success and employment,” said Rob Fowler, President and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “We need to recruit top-notch talent to grow our businesses and fill the cutting-edge jobs of tomorrow.”

“It’s time to take a hard look at how we fund our schools so all students, whether they’re in White Cloud, the U.P., Grand Rapids, Lansing or Detroit, can achieve and succeed,” said  Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark,  Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency superintendent. “As an educator and lifelong Newaygo County resident, I’ve seen the importance of preparing rural students, in particular, for jobs and success. Now, we must ensure all students from all corners of Michigan have the same access to a top-notch education.”

“Schools need a plan and a roadmap for success, just like businesses need a plan and a roadmap for success,” said Doug Maibach, Chairman of Barton Malow Enterprises and Executive Vice President of Barton Malow Company. “The School Finance Research Collaborative will create a framework for preparing all students for jobs and success.”

“Providing a top-notch K-12 education transcends race, party lines, geography and income levels,” said Angela Reyes, Founder and Executive Director, Detroit Hispanic Development Corp. “I am proud to be a part of a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from southwest Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.”

“We must reexamine our approach so all students can achieve and succeed, regardless of race, household income, learning challenges or geography,” said Teresa Weatherall Neal, Grand Rapids Public Schools superintendent. “We need to provide access to a quality education to prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow for West Michigan’s economic success story to continue.”

“As a member of West Michigan’s education and business community, I am honored and excited to be part of the School Finance Research Collaborative,” said Elizabeth Welch, Vice President of the East Grand Rapids Public School Board, and a Grand Rapids-based attorney. “We are a diverse and bipartisan group of business leaders and education experts, from West Michigan to the western U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.”

“We need to collect the best, most complete and most accurate information on what it truly costs to educate our students,” said Wendy Falb, President of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education. “Leaders in West Michigan are proud to be a part of this important effort.”

The Collaborative is currently funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The report will build on the findings of the state-funded Michigan Education Finance Study, which was released in June 2016. The state-funded study was not a true “adequacy study.”

The Collaborative will also employ proven methodologies to generate a more accurate roadmap for school financing in Michigan.

Once accurate and comprehensive data are available, the Collaborative will work to communicate this critical information to Michigan policymakers, stakeholders and the public at large.


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