The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the Michigan Senate has approved a school aid funding plan that would allow some of the lowest-funded school districts to gain additional equity payments and also increase all districts’ per-student allowance by $71 next year. Traverse City Schools (whuch are among the lowest funded in the state) would receive payments and some Leelanau districts would receive payments as well.
In their excellent editorial calling on Senators Michelle McManus and Jason Allen to champion school equity, the Record-Eagle says (in part):
This is hardly a new issue. Not long after voters approved Proposal A in 1994, the Legislature passed enabling legislation that gave more per-pupil state aid to a handful of districts, most of them the wealthiest in the state. The reasoning was that these districts had taxed themselves more than most and shouldn’t be punished for doing so.
The legislation also called for the per-pupil gap to be narrowed until virtually all districts got the same amount of aid, but that hasn’t really happened. The so-called 20(J) districts — those getting higher stipends — have continued to reap much more than districts like Traverse City.
Today, most districts get $7,204 per pupil, while some 20(J) districts still get more than $12,000. If Traverse City was funded at the level Birmingham schools are — $12,303 per student — its state contribution would soar by more than $51 million per year.
School equity is something that everyone in Northern Michigan should be talking with their elected officials about. Learn more about the issue at Citizens for Equity.