Governor Rick Snyder visited a high school in Ypsilanti Thursday to sign the 2019 K-12 education budget. WKAR's Karel Vega and Kevin Lavery break down the details.
Walk us through this budget, Kevin.
Sure. Karel, this is a nearly $17 billion package. A little over $1 billion of that will fund programs to support Michigan students with special needs. One element of this is early intervention initiatives to spot developmental disabilities in children before they enter kindergarten.
There’s 58 million set aside for school safety. This includes money for mental health counselors, threat reporting systems and physical building security.
There's also $499 million to help at-risk students. Among other things, that goes to help ensure they’re meeting reading and math proficiency standards.
These are just a few of the main items in the budget.
Is this an increase over past years?
Well, to hear the Republican-led legislature say it...yes. School districts are receiving between $120 and $240 more per student. The GOP says that’s the biggest raise in well over a decade.
That’s true, but you have to look at the big picture. The legislature cut $470 from the per student allowance back in 2012. The Michigan Education Association says school districts that had previously been getting the base funding level only recovered their full amount last school year.
So, in other words, Michigan school districts are just now coming out of an era in which they were financially strapped. Repairing the deficit has been a long road.
So, does that give us a glimpse into the tone of the coming school year?
In some ways. We could see an expansion of early childhood programs such as Great Start. Michigan funds early education for four-year-olds, but some experts say that really should start at age three.
It’s good that there’s more funding for literacy, particularly to help students reach third grade reading standards. However, there are 10 low achieving districts in Michigan that are working with the state to meet performance standards. These so-called “partnership districts” could face some tough accountability measures if they don’t meet the mark, including the possibility of closing schools. The Lansing School District is one of those “partnership districts.”
So, there’s a lot to keep an eye on.