Economy Shadows Mich. Aid Increase
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The education budget approved by Michigan lawmakers in August raises the state’s per-pupil allotment by $210, to a minimum of $7,085. But two months into the 2007 fiscal year, with Michigan still mired in economic troubles and its school aid fund running a $120 million deficit, some local school officials foresee possible midyear funding cuts. Many complain that the costs of providing ballooning health-insurance and retirement benefits ate up last year’s funding increase, and they are asking for help.
But Democrats, who in last month’s elections took control of the House of Representatives, say they will resist any plan for additional spending increases until the new legislature is seated in January.
The $12.1 billion education spending plan, a 2.6 percent increase over the previous year’s amount, includes $20 million in grants to help districts facing declining enrollments. Another $20 million is earmarked for narrowing the gap between the state’s lowest-spending and highest-spending districts, with up to $23 more per pupil going to districts with per-pupil allowances below $7,360.
The spending plan allocates nearly $100 million for early-childhood and preschool programs, a priority for Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, and $20 million to beef up middle school math and science programs.
One of the few education laws enacted during the session calls for newly minted elementary school teachers to have additional training in teaching reading as part of their certification.
Vol. 26, Issue 14, Page 21