School Funding Debate: Dollars vs. Performance

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder wants the public school funding debate in Michigan to focus on school performance, not just dollars, an Associated Press report said.

Districts anticipate their funding will be reduced by 8 to 10 percent, consisting of a $300 per-pupil reduction proposed by the governor; the end of federal funding that last year provided about $170 per student; and the growing cost of school employee pensions, this year equal to about $245 per student, according to an analysis by the Citizens Research Council, AP reported.

The governor has said that districts should consider closing buildings, reducing employee benefits, privatizing some services, sharing administrators and offering online classes as ways to reduce spending, according to AP. Districts that use these techniques will have access to extra money in 2012-2013 that Gov. Snyder wants to set aside as an incentive, the report said.

Most business leaders say school districts need to adopt the same cost-saving moves many businesses have been forced to make during the recent recession, but Snyder’s critics said K-12 schools already have been frugal and that reduced funding will result in larger class sizes and lower academic performance.

Traverse City Record-Eagle, “Snyder’s budget may force many changes,” March 6, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan Schools Still Well-Funded Under Governor’s Plan,” April 1, 2011