LANSING – Michigan lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a $ 17.1 billion K-12 budget on Wednesday that will close a long-standing core per student funding gap between districts and grow global funding of 10%.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign what many education officials have called a landmark bill, providing certainty for districts whose fiscal years began on Thursday.
State department budgets and funding for universities, community colleges and local governments will wait, potentially until September, despite a 2019 law requiring that they also be sent to the governor before today. The state’s fiscal year does not begin until October 1.
Traditional districts and charter schools will receive $ 8,700 in basic state aid per student, plus at least an additional $ 1,093 per student in federal funding from a bailout signed by President Joe Biden in March. The state grant will increase by $ 589, or 7%, for the vast majority of districts. Those at the high end will receive an additional $ 171, a 2% increase.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, a Republican from Midland, said the state has worked to close the gap for more than 26 years since school funding was reviewed by voters.
“I am delighted that we are able to ensure that our education is funded”, he told reporters, saying the grant of $ 8,700 “Is a great place for them to start their school year from July 1st working on their budget. I think it is positive.
“It’s a great bipartisan effort to have the biggest investment in education in Michigan history” said Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. of East Lansing, the first Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee. “I’m really proud of the job the governor did to get here and I was proud to support him.”
Lawmakers adopted Whitmer’s revised proposal to expand the state-funded preschool to 22,000 eligible but unenrolled 4-year-olds and increase the amount allocated per child.
They added $ 240 million to hire additional nurses and school counselors and $ 155 million to have Grand Valley State University pay up to $ 1,000 each to K-5 students who are not proficient in science. reading. The scholarship could be used for educational materials, tutoring, summer and extracurricular programs.
“The goal of this program is to provide as many good options for parents as humanly possible,” said Senator Lana Theis, a Republican from Brighton who cited the loss of learning as children went to online school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers also included $ 135 million for districts with a “balanced,” calendar. An additional bill that passed last week and the new K-12 measure approved will free schools an additional $ 4.7 billion in designated US funds for coronaviruses.
Teacher unions and charter school advocates applauded the passage of the budget and called equalization of core funding a big step forward. The superintendents were also satisfied.
“Educators now have the funding and guidance they need to get to work on what really matters: supporting the needs of every student as we work to meet the challenges of the pandemic and prepare our students for success in the future. during the coming year. and beyond,” said Ken Gutman, superintendent of Walled Lake Consolidated Schools and president of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan.
Also on Wednesday, both chambers overwhelmingly passed competing spending bills that, among other things, would immediately use federal COVID-19 relief aid to help hospitals and nursing homes facing financial hardship. to the pandemic. But the proposed payments are on hold amid budget discussions that will continue over the summer, including how to spend $ 6.5 billion on discretionary U.S. coronavirus funding.
Whitmer welcomed the completion of the school’s budget, but noted lawmakers missed the deadline to pass the rest of the budget. They have adjourned and it seems unlikely that they will meet until September.
“I hope the legislature will work quickly to approve a state budget that supports small businesses, repairs our crumbling roads and bridges, expands access to child care, and grows our economy,” she said in a statement.