PRESS RELEASE: National education experts selected to reexamine how Michigan’s public schools are funded

Two nationally renowned firms join forces to take a fresh look at how we fund our schools to serve all students

LANSING, Mich. – Two nationally renowned firms have been selected to conduct a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive school funding study in Michigan that will examine how our state’s public schools are financed, the School Finance Research Collaborative announced today.

“We look forward to taking a fresh look at how Michigan funds its public schools so that all students, no matter their circumstances or challenges, can achieve and succeed in the workforce of tomorrow,” said Bob Palaich of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA), the Colorado-based firm leading the study. “We are approaching this project without any political or preconceived notions to find out what it truly costs to provide a high-quality education to all Michigan public school students.”

APA is already familiar with Michigan’s school funding challenges: The firm conducted the taxpayer-funded Michigan Education Finance Study of 2016, on which the new study will build. California-based Picus, Odden & Associates (POA), will also play a key role in the research.

Working together, the two firms will conduct a school funding adequacy study. Adequacy studies help determine what it costs to educate all students, with adjustments made for students with special needs and school districts with unique challenges. The two firms have the most extensive experience nationally in conducting adequacy studies and assisting policymakers to refine their funding systems. Further, two of the four commonly used methodologies for adequacy studies were developed by APA and POA.

The new study is expected to be completed by January of 2018, and will provide policymakers with the best, most complete and most accurate information on the true costs of educating all Michigan public school students.

The new study will use multiple methodologies to examine how Michigan’s schools are funded, something that has never been done in the Great Lakes State. From 2003 to 2014, 25 states conducted adequacy studies. In 23 of the 25 states, multiple methodologies were used.

The new study will use the following methodologies:

Professional Judgment method: Top education experts identify human resources and operating expenses needed to ensure all students can meet all state standards.

Evidence-Based method: Academic research on student performance is used to identify needed resources to meet all state standards.

The report will incorporate findings of the state’s taxpayer-funded study. The Michigan Education Finance Study used the Successful School Districts method, which determines adequacy by examining the level of resources available to districts currently meeting certain performance standards.

The research team will create 19 panels made up of 220 Michigan education experts to inform their work. The panels will include a diverse range of educators, including teachers, specialists, principals, superintendents and special education directors, and experts in the following areas: technology, career and technical education, English Language Learners and early childhood education.

There will be a special panel on charter schools, the first time for a statewide study. The researchers will also establish special panels on poverty; preschool; small, medium and large school districts; and geographically isolated districts. Additional panels will focus on special needs students including English language learners, at-risk students, career and technical education.

The new statewide study is being initially funded by a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made to the Oakland Schools Education Foundation.

The School Finance Research Collaborative, a diverse, broad-based group of business and education experts from all corners of Michigan, is directing the study. The Collaborative selected the team of APA and POA, the two top school finance research firms in the country, to examine the state’s approach to funding K-12 schools to ensure all students are fully prepared for college and careers, from the inner cities to the suburbs, to rural areas and the U.P.

“We are truly fortunate to have two of the most experienced school funding research firms in the country on board for this landmark, comprehensive research effort in Michigan,” said Dr. Michael Addonizio, Professor of Education Policy Studies at Wayne State University and a Collaborative member. “As a career educator, I am excited to see the research team’s expertise and experience put into action as we reexamine school funding to benefit all Michigan students.”


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