Federal Money to Michigan Schools is Dropping

State funding is on the rise

Although the media and union activists have repeatedly (and erroneously) reported that Michigan’s Legislature has cut state dollars for K-12 education, there has been one facet of school funding that has been reduced significantly — and with nary a mention from either the media or activists.

Federal funding for schools in Michigan has been cut two years in a row, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. And the federal support today falls far short of what it was in the final years of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who benefited from a spike in federal funding due to President Obama’s stimulus plan.

The state of Michigan received $1.82 billion from the feds in 2013-14. That dropped to $1.81 billion in 2014-15 and then some more to $1.78 billion in 2015-16. But total funding for K-12 schools has not dropped in the last four years; state dollars have increased enough to make up for the loss of federal money. The state of Michigan received more than $2 billion a year from the feds for three years from 2008-09 to 2010-11, largely due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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The subsequent reduction in federal funds has had significant impacts on the operating budgets of school districts across the state.

For example, Warren Consolidated Schools went into debt in June of 2014 when its fund balance fell to $2.2 million in the negative. In 2013-14, the district received $7.3 million from the federal government in a $164.9 million general fund budget. The next year, however, the federal funds dropped to $6.7 million in a $162.8 general fund budget and the deficit more than doubled to $5.1 million. In 2008-09, Warren Consolidated Schools received $11.6 million from the feds.

Many other districts — both big and small — felt the same federal reductions.

Iron Mountain's school district saw its federal dollars decline from $327,616 in 2013-14 to $298,773 in 2014-15. South Lake Schools in Macomb County received $3.1 million in federal funds in 2010-11, but only $1.1 million in 2014-15.

Ever since Gov. Rick Snyder took office in January 2011, union activists and Democrats have accused Michigan Republicans of cutting education funding. Every one of Snyder’s five K-12 budgets called for an increase in state dollars, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.

Yet, the myth that the state had reduced its share of funding has persisted.

In January 2014, gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer went on WJR radio to claim that any increase in funding was due to an increase in federal funds and that “the actual state investment in education has fallen to the tune of a billion dollars.” That’s not accurate, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.

In August of this year, former Michigan teacher Stephanie Keiles left Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. Her resignation letter received national attention and blamed Snyder “and his Republican goons” for what she called the “chronic, purposeful underfunding of public schools here in Michigan.”

National public schools advocate Diane Ravitch then followed Keiles’ column with her own blog inaccurately claiming that “budget cuts” had finally gotten to the teacher, causing her to resign.

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See also:

There Was Never a $470 Per Pupil Education Funding Cut in Michigan

Advocates of More Education Spending Ignoring Billions in Other Funds

Michigan School Districts in Perpetual 'Funding Crisis'

Why Do Michigan Residents Falsely Believe Education Spending is Down?

The $2 Billion Education Funding Myth

Reality Check: Michigan Public Schools Getting More Money For Fewer Students

Michigan Schools Never Saw a $1 Billion Cut

Despite Fewer Students, Michigan School Funding Going Up, Up, Up