LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is set to make a historic investment in its public schools.
After a very difficult year, when many schools were worried they would close their doors for good, the new funding is creating a sense of hope.
The $16.7 billion will make a world of difference for educators, staff and students. It’s one of the rare moments of bipartisanship seen in Lansing.
The funding raises the amount of money spent on each student from $8,100 to $8,700.
“In my 20 years of public education, I have never seen this type of opportunity for kids across the state of Michigan from a financial standpoint,” said Novi Community Schools assistant superintendent Dr. RJ Webber.
The money will be used for everything from classroom spending to mental health programs, pre-schools and potentially teacher pay. It also means a 10% jump in funding, something that would have been unheard of a few months ago when schools were worried they wouldn’t have enough money at all.
“We can actually provide an additional level of support for our children that we never thought we were going to,” Webber said. “It’s almost one of those moments where you pinch me right now, because, is this real?”
But educators are also facing a challenge: what to do with their windfall so they can set themselves and their students up for success.
“Long term, when the difficult times return ... we make sure that we do whatever we can to protect ourselves in those moments as well, so the kids who are with us at that time are not harmed,” Webber said.
This is the first education budget passed on time by the Legislature in three years. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the funding bill soon.