The School Aid budget provides operational funding for the state’s public schools, which are charged with ensuring students are college and career ready when they graduate from the K-12 education system. The governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 recommends total ongoing funding of $13.8 billion, of which $45.9 million is general fund. The governor also recommends $114.7 million in one-time spending in fiscal year 2016. The estimated fiscal year 2017 budget totals $13.8 billion, including $57 million general fund.
Improving Early Learning Literacy
Evidence shows that reading proficiency in third grade is an early indicator of success in life. Over the last two years, $130 million has been included in the budget to significantly expand the state’s preschool program for at-risk 4-year-old children, to a total investment of $239.3 million.
• Building on that investment, the governor’s fiscal year 2016 recommendation continues to recognize the importance of early learning with a comprehensive strategy to ensure children are reading at grade level by the end of the 3rd grade. A total of $25 million is included in the Governor’s budget for 3rd grade reading proficiency. The proposed reforms are proven strategies to improve child literacy. In the classroom, the program focuses on high-quality instruction for all students, regular diagnostic screenings to determine if students are falling behind, and specific and targeted interventions for students who need help getting back on track. Since the path to reading proficiency starts at home, the proposed reforms also include opportunities for parents to engage their pre-school children in structured learning activities.
• In addition to $25 million invested in literacy activities, the budget includes $1 million to ensure that reforms are effectively implemented.
• The governor recommends the formation of a committee to offer guidance on components of the initiative prior to final passage of the fiscal year 2016 budget.
Expanding College and Career Readiness Programs
• The governor is recommending $17.8 million in funding to better prepare students for college and careers through the expansion of career and technical education early/middle college programs that are aligned with the 10 prosperity regions throughout the state. This investment is one component of over $35 million in new skilled trades funding recommended throughout the budget.
• An additional $2.2 million is proposed for programs intended to increase the number of college advisors in schools and for outreach efforts to make students and their parents more aware of available college and career options.
• The governor’s budget also includes $1.75 million for districts that support student enrollment in college courses while in high school, and $250,000 to help cover the costs of Advanced Placement tests for low-income students. Funding for First Robotics programs is also included at $2 million.
• With these proposed new investments, the governor’s budget includes over $80 million to support college and career readiness.
School District Fiscal Stability and Accountability
• General operations funding for schools is increased by $108 million through a foundation allowance increase of $75 per pupil. This proposed increase brings the minimum foundation allowance up to $7,326 per pupil, and the basic foundation allowance to $8,174 per pupil. Total funding to support public school operations through the per-pupil foundation allowance in fiscal year 2016 exceeds $9 billion.
• Providing further stability for school districts, the governor’s budget includes $893.5 million in fiscal year 2016 — an increase of $216.6 million — for payments to districts, district libraries, and intermediate districts that participate in the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS). This payment represents the amount over the capped employer’s contribution rate for unfunded accrued liabilities, following the reforms enacted in 2012.
• Continuing the governor’s focus on rewarding schools that adopt best practices, the fiscal year 2016 budget provides $30 million ($20 per pupil) in funding for districts that implement specified financial and student academic initiatives.
• The governor is again urging the passage of statutory changes in a package of bills to create multi-agency financial independence teams tasked with implementing an early warning system to identify and assist financially troubled schools.
• To help mitigate the impact on students from unforeseen fiscal emergencies, the Executive Budget recommends a deposit of $75 million into the Distressed District Rehabilitation Fund. Additionally, $2 million is included for up-front costs associated with the consolidations of districts or services.
Investing in Student Academic and Educator Supports
• In addition to his 3rd-grade reading initiative, the governor’s budget recommends increasing funding to assist low-income, academically at-risk students by $100 million to a total of $409 million.
• The fiscal year 2016 budget includes nearly $1.4 billion in funding for programs that provide nearly 200,000 students in the state with special education services.
• The governor’s budget again includes an investment of $1.8 million to align the remaining half of the Michigan Teacher Certification Tests with current state curriculum standards.
• Last year, the budget included $14.8 million in funding to implement an evaluation system for teachers and educators; however it was tie-barred to legislation that was not enacted prior to the end of the previous legislative session. The governor is again asking for the adoption of such legislation; if enacted, funds carried forward from fiscal year 2015 will be available for educator training, observation tools, and changes to state data systems that will link student performance and educator evaluations.
• The technology readiness infrastructure grant is continued with $25 million in funding to help districts address technology infrastructure needs.