Tuesday, May 21, 2013

State Funding Update--Action Requested

I just got this in my inbox from Michigan Parents for Schools.

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share with you this message which my colleague Elizabeth Lykins just sent out to parents and concerned citizens in the Grand Rapids area. I think she hits the nail on the head.

Steve Norton
Executive Director, MIPFS

Action items are first. Greater detail follows. If you have already made calls or sent emails, THANK YOU. If not, take a couple of minutes and do this for your community. The cuts we are all suffering are drastic; they could be MUCH deeper if some of the proposed legislation passes.

Tell your lawmakers:
  1. To oppose any reduction to the total per pupil funding. It is dishonest for legislators to claim that they are increasing per pupil funding while simultaneously reducing other types of aid that our public schools depend on, resulting, in fact, in a net loss to school budgets. They all claim to support schools - start showing it. So far, many have not.
  2. To remove from the final school aid budget the provision requiring school districts to allow students to take two online classes per year. This would siphon money from our schools, while giving it to private online vendors who are not held accountable for student academic performance (while at the same time holding our schools accountable for the students' academic performance in those online classes).
  3. Not to resolve the road crisis (or any other tax issues) on the backs of our schools. The legislature would be acting in a highly irresponsible way by removing the funding that gas taxes provide for schools without an assured funding replacement - one that does not rely on a ballot measure. Find the replacement BEFORE voting on any cuts.
  4. To stop using money from the School Aid Fund for purposes other than K-12 funding. The School Aid Fund has enough money to restore the per pupil funding cuts of the last several years and actually invest in K-12 public education - but not if those funds continue to be divided among other recipients, such as universities and community colleges.
  5. There is $400 million surplus in the general fund - please use it to restore money taken from our children.
ISSUE: The School Aid Budget
Currently, with the two budget proposals (House and Senate versions), local school districts can expect more cuts - again. In addition to the proposed funding cuts, we are concerned about a provision that is in both budget versions. This provision would require school districts to pay private online vendors, who are unaccountable for student academic performance, for up to two classes per year if students choose this option. This could potentially siphon more money away from our schools. Experience with a similar program in Louisiana shows that this could be a huge opportunity for fraud.

ISSUE: Roads vs. Schools.
Several bills would shift gas taxes, which benefit schools, to other fuel taxes that are exclusively committed to transportation. This would result in about an $800 million reduction in the School Aid Fund. The effect of such a shift would be at least a $500 per pupil cut on top of the funding decreases we are already trying to manage. This would be devastating. Replacement revenue has not been guaranteed. Another bill has been proposed that would eliminate transfer taxes on used cars (which also benefits the school aid fund).

My sincerest thanks,

1 comment:

  1. From the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education:
    UPDATE: Reports are surfacing that Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) and Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) signed off on final budget targets for next year’s budget with $350 million more for roads, $140 million more for the schools and another $75 million to the rainy day fund from the extra revenues announced last week.

    Budgets are a reflection of values, and this tells us they value roads 2.5 times as much as children with this deal.