Report: Michigan needs $4.5 billion annually for education

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(the Center Square) — A new report from the Education Law Center and the Michigan Education Association says Michigan needs $4.5 billion annually in order for students to achieve the state’s academic standards.

School funding adequacy refers to the funding needed to provide students with a reasonable opportunity to achieve state standards.

the a report He says that areas with more low-income students and those in rural areas tend to be further from adequate funding than areas with fewer low-income students and areas in cities or suburbs.

However, the study did not represent the nearly $6 billion in federal COVID money that has flowed into Michigan schools.

And Whitmer’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 already recommends a $19 billion school aid fund.

The study says more than 90% of Michigan school districts are underfunded at some level, with 77% of all Michigan public school students going to schools in districts that are more than $2,000 per student and are underfunded.

“Michigan’s education financing system is inadequate and unfair,” Tanner Delber, labor economist for the Michigan Education Association, said in a statement. Today, policymakers have an opportunity to lay the foundation for fair and adequate financing.”

The report finds that it would cost $4.5 billion to bring districts to funding adequacy based on updated estimates from the 2018 Michigan School Research Collaborative Funding Adequacy Study. This cost includes $1.6 billion in funding for free universal preschool.

Rep. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park, chair of the School Aid and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said she supports enacting a tiered income tax to raise that money. Weiss also suggested the change proposal awhich reduces property tax burdens.

“Our schools’ chronic underfunding has caused too many teachers to pay out of their own pocket for classroom materials, classrooms are overcrowded that robs students of a focused education, and too many of our children fall behind their peers in other states,” Marta Johnson said. Preschooler and sophomore in Grand Rapids Public Schools: “These issues have been well documented, but this report brings them into clear focus.”

The study says that smaller class sizes, student support and free pre-school will help students meet academic competency standards. The study recommended additional funding for students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

For example, the Escanaba District Public Schools in Northern Michigan, serving about 2,500 students, with more