LANSING — State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice shared with the State Board of Education today that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive recommendation for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 state school budget sets the positive direction for education moving forward.
“Different kids have different needs; different needs have different costs,” Dr. Rice said. “The governor’s recommended budget priorities reflect those realities by proposing additional funding for students with special needs, low-income students, and English language learners.”
Gov. Whitmer’s budget includes an additional $60 million in special education funding, an additional $60 million for economically disadvantaged students, and an additional $5 million for English language learners.
“I am excited that the governor’s budget recognizes the needs of all children and provides some of the extra funding that is needed to help all children achieve,” Dr. Rice said.
Dr. Rice pointed out that six separate school funding studies in six years have concluded that Michigan’s school funding plan needs to include differentiated funding to meet the instructional needs of specific populations of students. These studies include:
• former Lt. Governor Calley’s special education study in 2017;
• the School Finance Research Collaborative study, the state’s most extensive school funding adequacy study, in 2018;
• the Michigan State University study in 2019; and
• the recently released Ed Trust- Midwest study.
Dr. Rice also applauded the governor’s continued investment in early childhood education by recommending: a $42 million increase to expand the number of Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) pre-kindergarten students by 5,000; a $27 million increase in federal childcare funds by expanding family eligibility from 130 percent of the federal poverty level to 150 percent to provide opportunity to 5,900 more children, and a $35.5 million increase to expand the per-pupil revenue associated with full-day pre-kindergarten (two half-day slots) from $7,250 to $8,336, the minimum foundation allowance established for K-12 students in the budget.
Michigan is one of only three states that meets all the quality benchmarks of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Dr. Rice noted that Michigan needs to keep investing in its high-quality early education system.
“We have the highest quality early childhood education system nationally and we need to open that door to more children,” Dr. Rice said. “Our programs benefit our children and pay positive dividends when they enter our K-12 system. There is a 50-year research base that supports early childhood programs in Michigan, which dates back to the Ypsilanti Perry Pre-School Project in the 1960s. It’s time to stop talking and to start funding GSRP for all eligible children in the state.”
The governor’s budget recommendation also provides needed support to Michigan educators, Dr. Rice said. There is a one-time $25 million proposal to reimburse teachers for outof pocket expenses to purchase school supplies for their classrooms, and $3 million for professional development in the literacy essentials.
Additionally, the executive budget recommendation includes proposals to help address the growing teacher shortage in Michigan. With an appropriation of $1.5 million, school districts will be able to develop teacher cadet programs to encourage students to consider the teaching profession. There is also a $180,000 budget request to help improve recruitment and retention of teachers in districts that are struggling academically, to inform and educate the public about the teacher shortage, and to increase the number of qualified educators in the state.
Overall spending in per-pupil funding for Michigan schools would increase by $290 million under the governor’s proposal, with the lowest-funded districts receiving an increase of $225 per pupil and the highest-funded districts receiving an increase of $150 per pupil.
The state legislature will now consider the governor’s executive budget recommendations as it deliberates on a consensus budget that must be passed by June 30, 2020. — P.S.