Top Spending School Districts Not Necessarily in Wealthiest Areas

Loss of GOP support for Snyder school choice proposal may be based on misperceptions about where high spending schools are located

Gov. Snyder supports a proposal requiring all school districts to participate in a schools-of-choice program, but many members of the Michigan Senate GOP caucus oppose it, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service (www.MIRSnews.com). Are some of the Republican concerns based upon incorrect perceptions?

Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, told MIRS that he was concerned about a disparity between “wealthy districts” bordering districts that aren’t wealthy.

"I'm concerned about having districts that are very wealthy back up districts that aren't," Kowall told MIRS. "If parents start pulling out all kids out of, say, the Pontiac district and putting them in the Bloomfield Hills district, what happens to the Pontiac school district that's suffering anyway?"

The Pontiac School District spent $15,344 per student in 2010. That’s considerably more than most of the nearby Oakland County school districts that Kowall represents. For example: Huron Valley spent $9,931 in 2010; Walled Lake spent $11,811; West Bloomfield spent $12,265; South Lyon spent $9,074 and Novi spent $12,253.

Bloomfield Hills (which is not in Kowall’s Senate district) spent $18,261 per student in 2010.

Comparisons and data for all districts are available at the Mackinac Center’s education database.

“Just because a particular area is economically depressed doesn’t necessarily mean that its local school district is also economically depressed,” said Michael Van Beek, education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an email. “This mistaken idea is based in part on how schools were funded historically, where revenues were largely based on local property taxes on homeowners. This is no longer the case. In fact, based on qualifications for some state and federal revenues, the poorer the area in which a district operates the more money it actually gets.”

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See also:

Grosse Pointe State Rep: Public Schools Must Control 'Who Is Allowed to Attend'