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Education

How can Lansing support struggling school districts?

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One of the most challenging issues facing the new state Legislature is school finance.

The Citizens Research Council recently released a report spotlighting shrinking school enrollment and the associated financial difficulties for districts. The report offers suggestions about how Lansing could support these struggling districts.

Craig Thiel, senior research associate with the Citizens Research Council, joined us today. He says the last time school enrollment was close to what it is now was the late 1950s.

“Back in 2003 we had about 1.7 million students enrolled in public schools – and that’s both traditional public schools as well as charters – and over the last ten years, statewide enrollment has declined to 1.5 million today,” Thiel said.

It's the “foundation grant” – the amount of per-pupil funding set aside by Lansing each year – that causes many of the difficulties for districts' financial management, he said. Each time a student leaves a district, so does roughly $7,000.

Listen above to hear the Citizens Research Council's suggested statewide fixes.