MI budget & K-12 schools funding

Governor Rick Snyder is proud of the K-12 schools funding increase in next year’s budget.

He and his staff said on Twitter on Wednesday, “Each and every year we’ve increased funding for K-12 education.”

“There has been more money going into public education, but frankly, we are still below funding levels from five years ago,” Munising Public Schools superintendent Pete Kelto said.

Most of the new money has gone to the retirement fund for Michigan teachers.

The retirement system was underfunded for years, so it did need help.

But Kelto says that money does not make its way into the classroom.

He says the Munising schools have reduced their annual expenses by $1 million from where they were five years ago, but even that hasn’t been enough.

“We’re thankful we had a fund balance to draw down on,” Kelto said. “We feel we’ve been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and yet, we are still having to draw down on that fund balance annually to balance our budget, and eventually that will come to an end.”

Some of the new money that is making its way into the classroom may not be available after next year.

“There’s a $50 (per student) one-time equity payment, so that means that it may not be there in ’14-’15,” Kelto said. “There’s a $52-per-student payment if you hit seven of eight best practices, which we do hit here, and there’s also some performance-related funding on a per-pupil basis. We also hit that as well. No guarantee that that will be there in the future.”

A series of bills currently before the state Senate concerns bankrupt schools.

The bills would give the state treasurer and the state superintendent of schools the power to dissolve insolvent school districts that have between 300 and 2,400 students.