Budget for Schools Moves Forward

On Thursday, June 2, the House and Senate conference committee for school aid reported their budget.
Highlights of the compromise budget include:
  • No changes to the current state assessment system. Maintaining consistency in assessments is important for ensuring honest and transparent information for students, parents and teachers.
  • An increase of $60-$120 in per pupil funding (the  “foundation allowance”). As a result of this increase, districts will receive $7,511-$8,229 per student. This funding does not include program-specific state funding, often referred to as categorical spending.
  • An investment of an additional $24.9 million for early literacy initiatives.
These investments are critical for putting Michigan on the path to becoming a top ten education state. Much more work is needed, however, to ensure that Michigan uses these funds on research-based strategies to improve student learning.
The budget will now be considered by the full House and Senate, which is expected to happen later this week.

Ed Trust CEO: ‘Kids in Michigan are frankly in a free fall’

Education was the dominant subject among the more than 1,700 business, political and civic leaders at last week’s Mackinac Policy Conference, both in formal presentations and the informal conversations.

Much of the talk concerned the Detroit Public Schools, but as the Detroit News pointed out in an editorial wrapping up the conference, “education shortfalls in Michigan go far beyond the Motor City.”

News outlets across the state quoted Kati Haycock, CEO of the Education Trust, during a panel on school funding and reform: “Kids in Michigan are frankly in free-fall compared to other states.”

Much of the talk at Mackinac, and coverage in media across the state, featured details from the report, Michigan’s Talent Crisis, issued by the Education Trust-Midwest in May, showing how far student performance in Michigan has fallen in the last 12 years.

“In fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, national standardized test scores place too many Michigan students in the bottom 10 of states,” the Detroit News editorial noted. “That applies to all students — African-American, Latino, white, wealthy, poor.”

In leading education states, business leaders have played major roles in spearheading the kind of school reforms needed in Michigan. That strategy was discussed in detail at the panel that featured Haycock, and struck a chord with many of the conference participants.

“As business leaders return home, they should take the state of Michigan’s schools to heart,” the Detroit News editorial noted. “A cohesive campaign to improve education would not only be good for students, but it would also help ensure a talented workforce and drive a stronger economy.”

Capitol Update

Upcoming Meetings:
Conference Committee on Education Omnibus. Wednesday, June 8 at 5:00 p.m. House Appropriations Room, Room 352, 3rd Floor of the Capitol Building. AgendaSB 801 (Hildenbrand) Appropriations; zero budget; fiscal year 2016-2017 omnibus appropriations for school aid, higher education and community colleges.

House Education Committee. Thursday, June 9 at 8:15 a.m. House Office Building, Room 521. Agenda: Presentations on the Every Student Succeeds Act by Michelle Exstrom and Lee Posey from the National Conference of State Legislatures and from the Michigan Department of Education.

State Board of Education. Tuesday, June 14 at 9:30 am. Ladislaus B. Dombrowski Board Room, Fourth Floor, Hannah Building. The agenda will be available here.