Utica Community Schools Responds to CapCon Article on District Finances

Cites $35 per-pupil increase after adjustments

Tim McAvoy, director of school/community relations for Utica Community Schools, offered this response to a March 5 Michigan Capitol Confidential article about the district’s school finances.

Our community continues to be concerned about revenue levels not meeting the rate of inflation as a result of the current school funding formula used by Michigan lawmakers.

There are two important factors that impact the reported revenue growth from 2010-2011 to 2016-2017. Once these factors are addressed, the reality is that revenue per pupil for general operation has only increased $35 per pupil during this time period.

The first factor is that the State of Michigan reduced state funding by the amount of Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Edujobs funding available in 2010-2011. As a result, the base year in the article is artificially low.

The second factor is that much of the reported growth is restricted for specific purposes — such as retirement or at-risk programming — and cannot be used to fund school district general operations. These are mandated costs and Utica Community Schools cannot use them to cover inflationary increases in general services.

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Once you consider these factors, the revenue growth for Utica Community Schools for general operating purposes during these six years is $35 per pupil — or an average of nearly $6 per pupil each year.

Editor’s note: Utica Community Schools’ contribution to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System increased from $19.9 million in 2011 to $43.5 million in 2017. That extra $23.6 million in pension costs is part of the reported revenue growth that can’t be used for district general operations.

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