Senate K-12 budget is more of the same: CEO’s not kids

What a difference a day makes in the Legislature when it comes to the education budget!

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a $12.7 billion K-12 budget on a 25-13 vote that made changes to the Appropriations Committee version in school aid and funding for standardized testing.

Legislators approved what they call a $116-per pupil increase in the foundation allowance—or $232 more for the lowest-funded districts. But this still isn’t enough to restore years of education funding cuts—especially the $1 billion cut schools suffered last year. True to form, the Republicans are still more concerned about corporate interests than the education of Michigan’s children.

Democratic amendments getting $300 more per pupil, restoring funding levels to the 2011 level, and reducing the foundation allowance by $1,000 for those charter schools not contributing to MPSERS were shot down.

After talk of replacing the MEAP with a computer adaptive test to better measure student growth and effectively eliminating funding for it, the Senate approved $26.7 million from the General Fund and $8.3 million in federal funds for the standardized test. Without the money, the state risked losing federal funding.

Other additions to the Senate budget include $10 million more for Great Start Readiness Grants; $6 million more for small class size grants; and a requirement that districts with deficit elimination plans—like Muskegon Heights, Pontiac and Clintondale—post those plans on the district’s website.

The full Senate also approved cutting funding for pupil performance grants from $95 million to $40 million. Established by Gov. Snyder, the grants rewarded school districts who met certain incentives.

The House was considering their version of the education budget on Thursday. Capitol Comments will report further on that and other budget developments throughout the next month.