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Not enough—but school districts snag $11 per pupil fund

July 14, 2010 - A budget bill recently signed by the governor and promoted as an $11 increase in per-pupil funding is not really an increase, says one local superintendent.

"For fiscal year 2010, we are expecting to receive an increase of $11 per pupil from the state," said Brandon Schools Superintendent Lorrie McMahon. "Technically, all it does is reduce our decrease. We had lost $165 per pupil last year, so now the reduction is $11 less."

On July 8, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed the state school aid budget bill which authorizes the expenditure of $12.8 billion to support Michigan's K-12 education system in fiscal year 2011, including $10.9 billion from the state school aid fund, $1.68 billion in federal funds for education, $184.3 million in federal Recovery Act funds, and $30.2 million from the state's general fund.

School districts will see a modest $11-per-pupil increase for both the 2011 fiscal year and the remainder of the 2010 fiscal year. The 2010 fiscal year school aid budget included a $165-per-pupil reduction.

Goodrich Superintendent John Fazer said the anticipated $433 per-pupil reduction in the new budget will now be a $11 per-pupil increase. The increase coupled with no loss in funding equates into a $625,000 less of deficit spending.

The district had planned to use about $985,000 from its rainy-day fund help reduce the deficit, reducing the fund balance to a little less than 10 percent.

The Goodrich school district had pink-slipped 16 teachers to reduce a projected $2.3 million deficit for the upcoming year.

However, teacher retirements — including eight who are not being replaced — prompted the recall of 13 teachers by the end of June.

"We still are in deficit by about $360,000," he said. "But I'm pleased with the hike in funding. We prepared for the worst-case scenario and the funding turned out far better than we anticipated for this school year."

McMahon took a dimmer view of the $11 per-pupil increase, which returns about $36,000 Brandon District officials thought they had lost.

"It nowhere near meets the needs of the district or the state education programs," she said. "We'll still be way behind where we need to be and we have to see first if it materializes. The state could still do a pro-ration and take it all away. We've cut a lot, when you compare $3.5 million (in cuts) to $36,000, it's a drop in the bucket."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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