Twenty-five cents on the dollar

Dear Editor,
That is the amount our state legislators and the governor have put into law that will fund any increase in enrollment for our public schools.

Tim Throne, Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools

Recently, the state legislators and the governor determined that some of our DK–12 students are not as “valued” as others. They are deserving of only 25% of the base foundation allowance. For the first time since the passage of Proposal A on March 15, 1994, every student will not be funded at 100% of the base foundation allowance. Any district that experienced growth will receive only 25% for the increase in student count.
This decrease in funding does not solely apply to schools of choice (SOC) students. While some districts did increase enrollment due to SOC, others simply have a greater number of incoming (in-district) students. As public school districts, we are held accountable to provide an education this year for all these students, whether we receive money to do so or not. If not, local districts will be forced to pay for this education out of our fund balances (savings accounts from years past) and hence, the local taxpayer will be supplying the other 75%. These fund balances were not built overnight; they have taken years to accumulate.
However, some great news emerged during the revenue estimating conference: the school aid fund has a surplus and in the hundreds of millions — $372M. So why can’t the State fund every student at 100% this year?
The State is now in heavy budget discussions that will continue over the next few weeks. Our legislators and governor need to do the right thing and fund every student equitably — regardless of the district in which s/he is enrolled — at 100% of the base foundation allowance. This unfortunate, and I believe, unintended consequence of the latest round of bills that were signed into law needs to be corrected and prioritized as number one before any other budgetary discussions takes place.
From Berrien Springs, to Portland, up to Calumet, and back down to Oxford, many districts and students will be impacted if funding isn’t restored to 100% for this year’s pupil count. Please reach out to your local legislators and the governor to demand that your student’s education . . . our students’ education . . . every student’s education . . . counts this fall!
Tim Throne, Superintendent Oxford Community Schools

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