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Don't Be Misled by $778 At-Risk Payments

Governor Snyder recently proposed a $778 increase per economically disadvantaged pupil in Michigan. At first glance, this looks good. Who can argue with an announcement like this:

An increase of $150 million, to a total of $529 million, to ensure that children in difficult financial situations are getting the help they need. All districts and public school academies will now be eligible to receive an additional $778 per pupil to assist at-risk students.

After all, it's money for at-risk students. We instantly assume that the governor is proposing helping our neediest students, which should make us all jump for joy.

And we know from the adequacy study done last year that our poorest students require greater funding (30% more!) to educate if we ever hope to close the achievement gap, not to mention their general recommendation of $8,667 per pupil as a foundation allowance (note that many districts in Michigan still receive far less than this).

But the real problem of inequitable funding still exists under this plan. Districts that didn't receive at-risk funding from the state before can now receive this additional money.

These are mostly districts that are considered "hold harmless." They're districts that had larger foundation allowances prior to the passing of Proposal A. Essentially, their communities are still allowed to levy additional educational mills and thus receive more money per pupil.

Under this plan, Birmingham Public Schools will receive an extra $400,000 for at-risk students. Their foundation allowance is $11,984.

Bloomfield Hills will receive around $360,000. Their foundation allowance is $12,064.

Grosse Pointe will receive $820,000. Their foundation allowance is $9,924.

Compare this to Van Buren Public Schools, where the foundation allowance is $7,667, and Wayne-Westland Community Schools where the foundation allowance is $7,511. While these districts will receive $419,000 and $1.3 million respectively it still doesn't make up for the difference in foundation allowances.

Thus, the wealthier districts continue to get wealthier under the governor's plan, and the funding gap will never close, even if his plan operates under the guise of helping the neediest students.



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