Lawmakers agree to deep education budget cuts

Lawmakers in Lansing have finalized budget cuts for K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities, agreeing to more than $1 billion in overall cuts that will lead to mass layoffs and reduced services for students.

For K-12 schools, districts will lose $470 per pupil, though the cut will be less for some schools that meet certain conditions. Public universities will receive a 15 percent cut and community colleges will lose more than $216 million.

Previously, the House and Senate passed competing budgets. This week, conference committees worked out the differences. The bills will be of the overall budget plan for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to agree with the changes.

Other key highlights include:

-- The budgets shift hundreds of millions from the School Aid Fund for community colleges and universities.

-- Legislators agreed to offset some public employee retirement costs and to give schools that engage in "best practices" an extra $100 per pupil.

-- Class size reduction grants will be cut nearly 40 percent.

-- The House and Senate eliminated declining enrollment grants, bilingual education, middle college grants, precollege engineering grants, agriculture education funding at Saginaw Valley State University, and Pontiac's crisis intervention. Intermediate school district funding was also cut by 5 percent.

-- In the 2012-13 school year, districts with half-day kindergarten programs will receive just half of the per pupil foundation grant.