Schools Struggle with Low State Funding

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

As student count day, Wednesday October 2, approaches schools are concerned about funding. The state has cut funding considerably, for example Dansville schools will get $357 dollars less per student this year than in 2008. The district has about 840 students.

"We're hopeful that we've hit rock bottom," said Amy Hodgson the Superintendent of Dansville Schools.

Like every district, Dansville has tried to minimize the impact the cuts have had on kids' educations. The district has outsourced transportation, technology, food and business services. It even asked teachers to pay more out-of-pocket for health care.

"We have a higher co-pay, we have to pay higher prescription cost, and things like that," said Nicole Greiter, a Kindergarten teacher and the Union President at Dansville Schools.

Greiter represents 53 teachers. They all accepted the new health care change unanimously. It isn't the first sacrifice teachers in Dansville have made.

"In the past we needed to have money to help keep the teachers all employed when there was a cut in the middle of the year," said Greiter. "The teachers got together and gave money back to the district just to make sure that the classes didn't have to change and nobody had to be laid off. Everyone here wants to work together."

Parents say its the teachers that make the difference.

"People move into the community for this school. We did 17 years ago and people are still coming because of the school," said Marie Parsons, a parent with kids in Dansville Schools who lives a few blocks away from the building.

However other districts have felt a more substantial pinch.

Lansing Schools lost $423 dollars per student since 2008. That adds up to more than $5 million dollars. The district laid off teachers, closed buildings, consolidated art, music and physical education classes.

Further compounding the problem, the money districts get goes less and less far each year and in many cases the number of students is also down.

Hodgson says despite all their cost saving measures while avoiding to impact student academics, schools are at the end of the rope.

"We've done those things and now I'm not sure what else there is to do if we don't see some changes in funding. We are running out of creative solutions that do not impact the classroom," said Hodgson.

Schools hope soon, the state will value education more by giving it more funding. Currently education funding takes up about a third of the state's budget, and is largely paid for through sales and income tax.

To see how your specific school district's funding has changed between 1995 and 2013 click on the related link below titled "Michigan School District Funding Per Student."

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