PRESS RELEASE: Business leaders, education experts urge lawmakers to heed SFRC study in budget debate

LANSING, Mich. — Business leaders and education experts from across Michigan today called on policymakers to use the School Finance Research Collaborative study as a roadmap in determining school funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, the Collaborative completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study that determined the true cost of educating a student, with additional funding considerations for special education students, students living in poverty, English Language Learners and Career and Technical Education programs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on the huge inequities and the lack of fairness in how Michigan’s schools are funded,” said Dr. Randy Liepa, Wayne RESA superintendent and School Finance Research Collaborative member. “The public health crisis has also magnified glaring disparities already in place due to the outdated way we fund our schools. We see this in the digital divide. We also see it as educators do their very best with limited resources to support special education students from a distance.”

“We don’t know what it will cost to make our classrooms safe, such as providing Personal Protective Equipment to teachers and students and measures to accommodate social distancing in our classrooms and hallways,” said Ron Koehler, an education consultant and former assistant superintendent at Kent ISD. “We also don’t know the cost of continuing remote learning for our kids, or whether we will need to expand these programs to serve student needs. Despite great uncertainty, we need to make our kids our top priority in Michigan’s resurgence.”

“Michigan’s public schools are already woefully underfunded, and additional cuts would make a bad situation even worse for our kids,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools superintendent and School Finance Research Collaborative member. “We strongly urge lawmakers to heed the findings of our research. We owe it to our kids to chart a new path that provides all students the same opportunity to succeed.”

“I can tell you firsthand Michigan’s businesses rely on our children receiving a solid K-12 education that prepares them for the real world,” said Doug Maibach, chairman of Barton Malow Enterprises. “That includes classroom learning as well as the life skills needed to succeed in a fiercely competitive global economy. Now is the time for our policymakers to adopt a new school funding plan that helps all students succeed, regardless of learning challenges, income, zip code or other circumstances.”

“It’s never been more important for lawmakers to heed the findings of the School Finance Research Collaborative report,” said Jim Stapleton, president and CEO of B&R Consultants, Regent Emeritus at Eastern Michigan University, and School Finance Research Collaborative member. “Our policymakers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to heed the SFRC’s research and make this long overdue investment in our kids. By using the Collaborative report as a guide, we can adopt a new approach that prepares all students for bright futures. If kids and educating them are truly the mission of both parties, then prioritizing funding their education cannot and should not be caught up in politics “

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.

Click here for a recording of the media event.


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