MIDLAND, Mich. — The state of Michigan’s per-pupil revenues reached an all-time high, as shown by an update to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Michigan School District Revenue and Expenditure Report database. The latest update, which includes data for fiscal year 2020, shows that revenues reached $15,296 per pupil.
The database breaks down funding for K-12 education in Michigan going back to fiscal year 2004. Data is collected by the Michigan Department of Education and includes a full record of revenues and expenditures received by the state’s K-12 public school agencies, including districts, charter schools and ISDs.
Despite fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would decimate key sources of revenue for schools, per-pupil tax revenues at the local, state and federal level all increased from the previous year at a rate greater than inflation.
While schools, on average, received additional revenue, some disparities remain. Per-pupil revenues for conventional districts grew nearly twice as much as per-pupil revenues for charter schools, for instance. Charter schools were already put at a funding disadvantage, as they receive 20% less than traditional district schools, on average.
Cyber schools, which offer full-time online instruction, actually experienced a reduction in per-pupil revenue from 2019 to 2020, despite the fact these schools continued to operate and provide students with services throughout the pandemic. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to further reduce funding for students in cyber schools, a proposal that’s completely out of touch with the needs of students and families, as well as recent fiscal trends.
“The experience with COVID did not end up reducing school revenues as many feared,” said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center. “Rather, a familiar trend continued for Michigan: adding more tax dollars to serve fewer students. Policymakers do not need to worry about restoring school budgets that are already whole, but should focus on fairly supporting students as families seek flexibility and new opportunities that may lead to success.”
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