Details on historic K-12 budget passed by Legislature

On Wednesday, the State Senate passed the 2021-22 K-12 school budget, adding additional funding to what was already the largest proposed investment in K-12 public schools in the state’s history.

The Senate made changes to HB 4411 that added $300 million to the amount agreed to last week by the Governor and the House, putting the new figure for historic investment in Michigan students at more than $17.1 billion. Early Wednesday evening, the House voted to concur with the Senate’s changes and sent the budget on to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her approval.

The bill’s main feature – the elimination of the per pupil gap in the basic foundation allowance, which has existed since 1994 when Proposal A was enacted. This will bring all districts to the same foundation allowance of $8,700 per pupil (an increase of between $171 and $589 per pupil).

Another item maintained in the bill was $362 million the House added last week for the 2020-21 current fiscal year in federal coronavirus relief equalization payments.  This funding assures all districts will receive at least $1,093 per pupil from the federal aid package, especially for those districts on the lower end of the Title I formula.

Some additional highlights of this new budget include the following:

  • A $285 million increase for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, as well as a $560 million deposit into the MPSERS Retirement Obligation Reform Reserve Fund.
  • A $168 million increase for the Great Start Readiness Program to add 22,000 openings for eligible 4-year-olds. Also full day funding was increased to $8,700 per pupil, matching the K-12 foundation allowance.
  • $240 million of new money to help hire additional school psychologists, social workers, counselors and nurses.
  • An additional $44.4 million for special education.
  • NOTE: State funding for universities and community colleges were not included in this bill – action is still pending on those budgets.

Also added by the Senate was $155 million for reading scholarships administered by Grand Valley State University in a voucher-like program. MEA opposed this concept in previous budget iterations.

In a move to promote more schools with a “balanced calendar,” the Senate added $135 million for districts operating year-round calendars, with $75 million federal funding for one-time HVAC/capital improvements and an additional $60 million for operational cost for districts operating year-round calendars.

As MEA experts dive deeper into the details of the 2021-22 K-12 budget, please stay tuned for more updates (along with developments regarding the higher education budgets for next year.)

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MEA member Melissa Lambert, a librarian at Allen Park High School, with MEA Vice President Brett Smith (center) and Allen Park Education President Joel Burkey.

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