Monday, June 23, 2014

Straight up on why our K-12 foundation allowance increase is really NOT

It didn't take long for anti-public school groups to come out and attack school districts for our honest representation of school funding facts. So in the interest of making sure readers have balanced information, here are the facts regarding the latest K-12 budget produced by Lansing as it relates to the last eighteen years in our district:
  1. The foundation allowance provided by our legislature each year is the primary state and local funding source for K-12 education. It is the only source of funding that provides the flexibility necessary to operate the full spectrum of core, basic and accelerated programming necessary to ensure all students achieve college and career readiness levels.
  2. Yes, the conference committee-produced budget, which ended up looking very different than any of the three budgets proposed by the Governor, House and Senate, did in fact give our district an additional $50 per student (all districts received this) and a one-time equity payment of $125 per student (despite the fact this is an inaccurate use of the word "equity" to describe it).
  3. This additional $175 per student for the 2014-15 school year brings our foundation allowance up to $7,251 which is still $223 per student less than 2010-11 when Governor Snyder took office. At that time, Lansing cut our foundation allowance by $470 per student which that year was at a high of $7,474.
  4. The additional foundation allowance approved for our 2014-15 school year represents a modest increase of 2.05% in state and local revenues, however the current rate of inflation is 2.10% annually.
  5. If the legislature would have passed a budget that negates the Governor Snyder-cuts to K-12 public schools, our district would be in line to receive an additional $418,000 this coming year which would restore many of the cuts we've had to made and provide greater opportunities to address 3rd grade reading levels in a high-limited English proficient student population.
  6. In 1996-97 adjusted dollars, our foundation allowance has actually shrunk by $875 per student dropping from an equivalent of $5,673 to an inflation-adjusted $4,798 per student. Two-thirds of this slide, or $579, came under Governor Snyder's watch.
  7. Yes, it's true that the state passed legislation in 2011 mandating caps on health insurance plans to help districts keep costs down. It is also true that the state alone controls the setting of those caps each year and as a result, the district's costs have risen.
  8. Yes, it's true that the state is attempting to shore up a sickly MPSERS retirement system by spending additional dollars on it from the School Aid Fund, but the state created the retirement system, manages it independent of school districts, and is fully responsible for the mess the system currently is in. Neither school districts nor students had anything to do with creating this problem. In fact, many of the state's anti-public school policies over the last twenty years have contributed significantly to the problem yet our legislators and Governor continue to send the bill to our schools.
Below is a chart illustrating our district's foundation allowance since Proposal A was passed essentially centralizing school funding decisions in Lansing and placing the burden of adequately and equitably funding K-12 education for every child squarely on the shoulders of our Governor and legislators.

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