The three dozen or so Michigan school districts affected by a line-item veto of so-called "section 20j" supplementary funding payments are clearly the biggest losers in this year's school budget battles. When combined with per-pupil foundation grant cuts affecting all districts, the funding loss for some of these districts exceeds $600 per student.

However, before shedding too many tears, the cuts (around 4 percent) should be viewed in the context of how much these districts still will get (and spend) this year from all sources, including local, state and federal tax dollars. The figures are listed below, and range from $9,849 to $17,919 per pupil. Their average is $13,272 per pupil. (The average for all Michigan school districts is $11,432, while the 40 lowest districts, most of them charter public schools, average only $8,352.)

All this doesn't prevent some from conjuring up images of school ghost towns. Royal Oak resident Pam Shewchuck claimed: "We're just going to have a shell of a school district if [school funding] doesn't get fixed" (MIRS Capitol Capsule, 11/10/09, subscription required).

That would be one expensive shell. The National Public Education Finance Survey reports that Royal Oak schools (a 20j district) generated revenues in 2007-08 that added up to $14,230 per pupil.

Instead of lobbying for more revenue for schools, Michigan citizens should pay closer attention to what schools do with the money taxpayers have already given them.

"20j" School Districts and Per-Pupil Revenues and Cuts (figures are approximate as changes in local and federal revenue will affect the final numbers):

School District

2007-08

Proposed 2009-10 Cut

Estimated 2009-10 Revenue

BURT TOWNSHIP

$ 14,225.75

$ 482.08

$ 13,743.67

SAUGATUCK

$ 12,687.25

$ 592.05

$ 12,095.20

BRIDGMAN

$ 10,603.33

$ 590.38

$ 10,012.95

DETOUR

$ 15,172.04

$ 539.82

$ 14,632.22

PORT HOPE

$ 16,674.68

$ 544.21

$ 16,130.47

EAST LANSING

$ 13,140.01

$ 606.45

$ 12,533.56

WAVERLY

$ 11,883.63

$ 567.46

$ 11,316.17

CENTER LINE

$ 12,787.08

$ 503.02

$ 12,284.06

SOUTH LAKE

$ 12,508.29

$ 545.42

$ 11,962.87

WARREN

$ 12,599.36

$ 537.26

$ 12,062.10

WARREN WOODS

$ 12,264.28

$ 562.11

$ 11,702.17

REPUBLIC-MICHIGAMME

$ 14,585.78

$ 573.65

$ 14,012.13

MIDLAND

$ 11,413.16

$ 585.31

$ 10,827.85

JEFFERSON (MONROE)

$ 10,155.43

$ 440.96

$   9,714.47

BIRMINGHAM CITY

$ 17,532.63

$ 414.23

$ 17,118.40

ROYAL OAK

$ 14,230.07

$ 553.80

$ 13,676.27

SOUTHFIELD

$ 15,184.34

$ 448.78

$ 14,735.56

AVONDALE

$ 13,922.41

$ 596.10

$ 13,326.31

BLOOMFIELD HILLS

$ 17,919.19

$ 411.25

$ 17,507.94

CLARENCEVILLE

$ 11,238.23

$ 610.87

$ 10,627.36

NOVI

$ 14,557.19

$ 572.58

$ 13,984.61

TROY

$ 13,612.82

$ 540.18

$ 13,072.64

WEST BLOOMFIELD

$ 14,246.20

$ 550.94

$ 13,695.26

FARMINGTON

$ 14,172.10

$ 483.22

$ 13,688.88

LAMPHERE

$ 14,095.56

$ 469.00

$ 13,626.56

WALLED LAKE

$ 12,771.79

$ 583.38

$ 12,188.41

ANN ARBOR

$ 14,698.68

$ 525.35

$ 14,173.33

DEARBORN

$ 13,166.42

$ 572.72

$ 12,593.70

MELVINDALE-NORTH ALLEN PARK

$   9,849.29

$ 559.27

$ $9,290.02

GROSSE POINTE

$ 13,120.37

$ 490.09

$ 12,630.28

LIVONIA

$ 11,357.83

$ 608.81

$ 10,749.02

REDFORD UNION

$ 11,038.45

$ 571.17

$ 10,467.28

ROMULUS

$ 13,792.67

$ 568.63

$ 13,224.04

TRENTON

$ 12,290.28

$ 577.11

$ 11,713.17

GROSSE ILE TOWNSHIP

$ 12,624.74

$ 572.63

$ 12,052.11

HARPER WOODS

$ 12,554.44

$ 615.61

$ 11,938.83

NORTHVILLE

$ 12,417.64

$ 612.87

$ 11,804.77