Schools Not On Even Playing Field

By: John Tramontana Email
By: John Tramontana Email

School districts in Michigan aren't being treated equally by the state -- at least when it comes to funding. Some districts receive thousands of dollars more per pupil and now legislators are trying to do something about it.

"We've come a long way as far as addressing some of the equity gap between the school districts but we still have a long way to go," said democratic State Representative Matt Gillard.

Of the 20 Ingham County School districts, three receive only minimum funding of $7,085 per student. Others like Waverly and East Lansing receive over $8,500 dollars. So why is there such a big gap? Tom White of the Michigan School Business Officials says a big part is operating cost.

"It still doesn't make sense to say everyone should be at the same dollar amount," he said. "The cost of doing business may be higher in some parts of the state, you may have pupils that need more assistance."

Still some parents are angry that their students aren't getting as much money. About 40% of Michigan's students receive minimum funding.

"My children and their classmates are being discriminated against plain and simple," said concerned parent Kirt Kilbourne of Traverse City.

The government has slightly closed the gap over the past decade since the passage of Proposal A, which makes school funding the state's responsibility. But some representatives are working to close that gap even further.

"We're focused more on the lesser funded districts and increase them a little higher to bring them to up to the districts where more money is spent per pupil," Gillard said.

The problem is finding the money to do that and it could take time. While some parents are calling for an immediate resolution, White says that's just not possible.

"Realistically, given the economic times we're in, you can't just close the gap all in one foul swoop," he said.

The state has helped to close the gap from $1500 to $1300 in the past 10 years.

Ingham County School State Aid Per Pupil

East Lansing $8,518
Lansing $7,653
Dansville Agricultural $7,207
Haslett $7,243
Holt $7,526
Leslie $7,085*
Mason $7,161
Okemos $8,142
Stockbridge $7,085*
Waverly $9,045
Webberville $7,085*
Williamston $7,129
Michigan Early Elementary $7,385
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz $7,385
Sankofa Shule $7,385
Mid-Michigan Public School $7,385
White Pine Academy $7,085*
Capitol Area Academy $7,385
New City Academy $7,385
Windemere Park Charter $7,385

*State Minimum Funding


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