School Boards Wary of No-Cut Promise

FENTON, Mich. — At least two Michigan public school districts aren't counting on state lawmakers' predictions that  per-pupil funding will not be cut in 2010-2011, according to media reports.

Fenton Area Public Schools adopted a budget that assumes the state will reduce funding by $125 per pupil, while the Kalamazoo School District plans on a $100 per-student cut, according to reports in The Flint Journal and The Kalamazoo Gazette, respectively.

Last month state officials said that per-pupil funding next year likely would remain the same as in 2009-2010 due to an unexpected increase in state tax revenue, but Kalamazoo Deputy Superintendent Gary Start told The Gazette that the district prefers to use conservative estimates.

The state promised the same thing the previous year, he told The Gazette, but later cut state aid by $165 per student.

Even though it expects less money per student, Kalamazoo adopted a budget with no program or staffing reductions, The Gazette reported. The district anticipates an influx of 379 students, which would offset the per-student losses.

In Fenton, the district has eliminated six non-educator positions, implemented a 3 percent pay cut in central administration, reduced support staff hours and negotiated a contract with them requiring higher insurance contributions, in order to bring spending down by $1.7 million next year, according to The Journal. The district still must eliminate another $400,000 in order to match revenue projections, The Journal reported.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Kalamazoo Public Schools avoid cuts in 2010-11 and expects to add a few teachers," June 24, 2010

The Flint Journal, "Fenton school board approves 2010-11 budget, cuts $1.7 million," June 24, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Unstable Funding Myth," June 24, 2010