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State House Dems call for higher minimum school funding

From a Detroit classroom
Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
Of the nine people indicted in the Detroit Public School scandal last fall, the Detroit Free Press reports there have been seven guilty pleas.

As many Michigan students return to school, the debate over education funding is starting up again at the state Capitol in Lansing.

Democrats in the state House plan to introduce a bill that would increase minimum payments to districts. Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers this year set that amount at an additional $50 per student.

But the Democrats say that could effectively mean a cut for some schools when you factor in higher costs for retirement and other things. They want to raise the minimum increase to $83 per student.

State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, says those districts are being forced to make difficult cuts as they begin the school year.

“When you look at those smiling kids’ faces and the teachers who are excited and refreshed and the administrators who are raring to go, you can’t go in on day one and tell them we’re not giving you the resources that it takes to succeed,” Schor told reporters Tuesday.

“That’s wrong. That’s our failure.”

Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul says the district is one that is already being forced to make tough cuts.

“We were totally blindsided by the reductions and, quite frankly, embarrassed by the inherent inequities in the final allocations,” she said.

Schools that got the minimum $50 increase per student are ones that typically have seen higher funding compared to other districts.

Gov. Snyder had proposed a higher minimum increase in funding in his budget proposal earlier this year. The House and Senate had also passed budgets including higher minimum increases. But the number shrunk to $50 per student after a conference committee reconciled the House and Senate education budgets.

Snyder and Republican legislative leaders say the new budget creates a fairer school funding system for schools that have historically seen less funding. That includes smaller schools as well as charter and cyber schools.