LANSING — State Representative Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) spoke today on the release of the Michigan Education Finance Study, which revealed significant funding gaps for public schools in the state. The study comes the day after Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law the School Aid Budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
“House Democrats have been fighting to make sure that every student across the state is able to receive a quality education,” said Rep. Zemke. “Yet when we’ve advocated for the funding which would give our students the opportunity to succeed, we were told no, repeatedly, by the Republicans. Now we have hard data that, sadly, proves the harm that’s being done.”
The study, which was initially expected to be completed in March, calls for each school to have a minimum amount of $8,667 per pupil, with significant additional funding provided for at-risk students. Michigan has a basic foundation allowance of $7,551 for the upcoming school year, meaning that the majority of the state’s schools will be approximately $1,100 short per pupil of the costs needed to properly educate students. Additional funding for at risk students is recommended at 30 percent, yet our current at-risk statutory multiplier is 11.5, prorated down to a projected 8.7 percent, meaning that it too will remain grossly underfunded.
“The unfortunate truth in this situation is the claim that there simply isn’t room in the budget for the kind of funding our kids need,” said Rep. Zemke. “Yet the School Aid Budget signed by the governor yesterday had plenty of room to fund charter school expansion, to fund cyber schools to the same level as traditional ones and to fund updates to private schools. So it isn’t that we don’t have the money; it’s that taking care of Michigan’s kids isn’t the priority. It is my hope that this study will be a wakeup call for the Legislature, and that we are able to tackle future funding with a bipartisan, child-centered approach.”