LANSING — State Representative Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) voted against the proposed School Aid budget today, saying the state should place a higher priority on K-12 education. “The proposed budget for our schools still falls short of what we know is required to improve school performance,” Irwin said. “Michigan schools are sliding downward in funding and performance when compared to other states and nations. Despite increasing revenues coming in to the School Aid Fund, money has been diverted to other priorities, and our schools are suffering.”

The budget passed today in the Michigan House of Representatives will add $50 per pupil to Ann Arbor Public Schools’ (AAPS) current state allocation of $9,050; however, this 0.5 percent increase does not keep up with inflation or the more quickly rising costs of health care and transportation. For comparison, online charter schools, with few teachers and no physical buildings to maintain, are slated to receive a $175 per-pupil increase.

“Today’s budget puts AAPS back to the level of state funding allocated 10 years ago,” Irwin said. “Great communities thrive on great schools. This budget places a low priority on our most important investment, which means more students packed into classrooms and greater pressure on schools to cut budgets for the arts, music, and athletic programs that are important for student’s development.”

School budgets are so tight in Michigan that many schools rely on parents to buy basic supplies such as copy paper and soap for their children’s classrooms. In addition, AAPS announced this week that, due to budget constraints, they will seek a pay freeze all employees for the coming year. This freeze, affecting nearly 3,000 full- and part-time employees, will have a direct, negative impact on the city’s economy.

“Michigan continues to miss the mark with this budget; it’s not the type of re-invention I can support. We have to stop disinvesting from our public schools,” Irwin said.