New website shows exactly how much Snyder’s school cuts still shortchange MI kids in every district

LANSING – A new online tool unveiled today can help parents, educators, teachers, school staff and policymakers see exactly how much Gov. Rick Snyder’s school  cuts continue to shortchange Michigan children in every school district. Dating to Snyder’s first year as governor in 2011, the cuts affect everything from classroom sizes, courses and programs, and basic supplies.

According to the website, www.kidsnotceos.com, every Michigan child will still be short – in some cases, by hundreds of dollars – even after Snyder’s 2014-2015 budget proposal provides an average of $111 per pupil. During his first year in office, Snyder cut school funding to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations – resources that children are not likely to recoup unless their classrooms are fully funded.

“Gov. Rick Snyder continues to use fuzzy math to shortchange Michigan children and this robs them of the opportunity to learn and succeed,” said Okemos High School math teacher Lisa Crites. “Every Michigan parent, teacher and citizen concerned about the future of our children should go to www.kidsnotceos.com to see the facts for themselves. The status quo is failing our children.”

Crites said school cuts have caused real harm to children’s education at her school including significant overcrowding in classrooms. In just the past few years, class sizes have increased from 14 students per classroom to 26, on average. This results in children getting less individualized attention from teachers. Crites said she also spent more than $1,400 out of her own pocket to buy supplies for her students that the school could no longer purchase.

Using data publicly available through the State Aid Status Report, House Fiscal Agency and Gov. Snyder’s Executive Recommendations released Feb. 11, www.kidsnotceos.com shows how much every school district in Michigan has lost since 2011, resulting in cuts to per-pupil funding. Prior to that, per-pupil funding has never been cut, dating to 1994, when Proposal A established the current formula for how Michigan supports public schools.  Despite Snyder’s claim that he is increasing resources, per-pupil funding will still be below what it was when Snyder took office. The shortfall ranges from $129 per pupil in many districts across Michigan’s 83 counties, to a high of $770 per pupil at Westland Wayne schools.

“If Gov. Rick Snyder is serious about making our children’s education a Number One priority and helping our kids make a comeback, we urge him to fully fund our classrooms,” said David Myron, a teacher at Perry High School in Shiawassee County. “Our online tool shows how Michigan children have taken huge hits to their education because of budget cuts. Schools across Michigan remain in deficit, we cannot cut our way out the hole Gov. Snyder put us in, and children are the ones who will ultimately pay the price.”

Myron said his school district had operated in the black – until a $470 per-pupil cut during Gov. Snyder’s first year in office in 2011 mired the district in a lingering deficit. Myron said the cuts are disproportionately harming low-income children in the district, where more than 46 percent of kids qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“Michigan’s public schools should be places where all children have an opportunity to get a good education that can help them succeed and compete for jobs, and that’s why we need to reverse the trend among politicians of taking money from our children,” said Gini Larson, a fourth-grade teacher from Waverly Community Schools in Eaton County. “This website provides important information to parents and policymakers so they can see what frontline educators like us see every day. Gov. Snyder’s school cuts are having a direct negative impact on our children’s education.”

Larson said school cuts have significantly reduced critical educational services for children, including reading, math and special education programs.

The home page of the site features a blackboard in a darkened classroom with the words: “Snyder’s school cuts: The numbers don’t lie.”

“Since 2011, Gov. Snyder took money from our kids’ classrooms for a massive tax giveaway to corporate special interests,” the site says. “Now you can see for yourself – district by district, year by year – how much Rick Snyder has cost our kids.”

To find a school district, go to www.kidsnotceos.com, click on the dropdown bar and select the district. The results can also be printed as a standalone handout page.

CONTACT: Nancy Knight, MEA Director of Communications and Public Policy

517-337-5508