Get Caught Up: What the ‘historic’ Michigan education funding bill means for your child

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan bill on Wednesday that includes $4 billion in federal COVID relief

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan funding bill on Wednesday giving Michigan’s K-12 schools a boost.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan funding bill on Wednesday giving Michigan’s K-12 schools a boost.

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan education funding bill on Wednesday giving Michigan’s K-12 schools a boost.

Last week, Michigan legislators approved a record $16.7 billion in funding for K-12 schools across the state. House bill 4411 raises the amount of money spent on each student from $8,100 to $8,700, and gives schools a 10% increase in funding.

A supplemental bill (House bill 4421 -- view summary below) approved by Michigan legislators earlier in June was the bill signed by Whitmer on Wednesday. The supplemental bill releases an additional $4.3 billion to schools from designated federal COVID relief funding.


Get Caught Up” is ClickOnDetroit’s Saturday news review to help readers catch up on the biggest stories of the week.


“I’m proud to be here today to sign this bill because this is about critical investment in our kids, in our teachers, our paraprofessionals, administration and all the different pieces that make public education work for our children,” Whitmer said.

Many parents want to know what this boost means for their child. The funding, among other things, will close historic gaps in per-pupil funding. Officials said the funding will go to Michigan school districts based on need. The money is meant to be spent on classrooms, mental health programs, early childhood education and hiring more staff.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the type of investment in our schools that will put Michigan students and educators first as they head into the next school year,” Whitmer said in a statement Wednesday. “Our actions today prove that Republicans and Democrats in Lansing can work together to enact budgets that are laser-focused on helping Michigan take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunity we have right now to make transformative investments in our schools that will have positive impacts for generations.”

Traditional districts and charter schools will receive $8,700 in base per-student state aid, not including at least $1,093 more per pupil in federal funding from a rescue package signed by President Joe Biden in March. The state grant will rise by $589, or 7%, for the vast majority of districts. Those at the higher end will get an additional $171, a 2% increase.

Gov. Whitmer signs spending bill that boosts funding for Michigan schools
Gov. Whitmer signs spending bill that boosts funding for Michigan schools

Legislators also embraced Whitmer’s revised proposal to expand state-funded preschool to 22,000 eligible, but unenrolled, 4-year-olds and to raise the amount allotted per child.

Read more: Whitmer: Expand preschool to 22,000 4-year-olds in Michigan

They added $240 million to hire additional school nurses and counselors and $155 million for Grand Valley State University to disburse up to $1,000 each to K-5 students who are not proficient in reading. The scholarship could be used for instructional materials, tutoring, summer and afterschool programming.

“The goal of this program is to provide as many good options to parents as humanly possible,” said Sen. Lana Theis, a Brighton Republican who cited learning loss as kids went to school online in the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers also included $135 million for districts with a year-round, or “balanced,” calendar. The supplemental bill (view summary below) that was passed last week and the newly approved K-12 measure will release to schools an extra $4.7 billion in designated U.S. coronavirus funds.

Read more: Michigan Legislature approves major boost in K-12 funding

Last month, Whitmer proposed investing another $250 million of COVID relief funding into Michigan parks and trails.

“These two new investment programs, totaling $400 million, mark a once-in-a-generation chance to improve quality of life for our residents, support local economies and bring people back to Michigan as the state continues its recovery from the effects of the pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “These investments will ensure our children and grandchildren continue to enjoy the rejuvenating benefits of natural beauty and outdoor spaces so prized by Michiganders. I look forward to working with the Legislature to secure this investment for our communities.”

Read: Whitmer: Allot $150M in federal rescue funds for Michigan’s local parks, trails


House Bill 4421 (as enacted) -- summary:

Date Completed: 7-8-21

CONTENT

The bill would amend the State School Aid Act to provide fiscal year 2020-2021 supplemental Federal appropriations as follows:

  • $86,777,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding for emergency assistance to nonpublic schools as provided in Federal law (Sec 11o).
  • $93,023,000 from the Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools funding to provide services or assistance to nonpublic schools as provided in Federal law (Sec. 11o).
  • $840,677,500 for the remaining Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II funding distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocations as provided in Federal law, bringing the total to $1,490,677,500 (Sec. 11r(4)).
  • $3,347,849,700 in ESSER III funding distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocations as provided in Federal law (Sec. 11r(8)).
  • $5,548,500 for the remaining ESSER II administrative funding to the Department of Education, bringing the total to $8,281,500 (Sec. 11r(8)).

The bill also would amend Section 23b, which provides funding for summer school, before and after-school, and other programs. Amendments to this section would include allowing students to enroll in summer programming offered by any district (not just their resident district), allowing districts to use local assessments to make determinations of children with greatest need (in addition to benchmark assessment data) for summer programming, and removing requirements that summer programming be in-person. MCL 388.1611 et al.

FISCAL IMPACT

The bill would increase Gross appropriations by $4,373,875,700, all of which would be Federally funded. State spending from State resources and State payments to locals would remain at current year-to-date levels.


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About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.