State school funds may rise

By Mary Drier
Staff Writer
MICHIGAN — State lawmakers give money and then take it away, again and again, especially to schools
For the last few years, legislators have cut funds for education; but this week as part of the proposed 2013 budget, some money could be reinstated for education.
K-12 schools are outlined to receive $120 more per student in the 2013 budget, but the increase is less than what has been cut over the last few years. Previous fund reductions to K-12 schools has been about $470 less per student.
“The $120 would mean that Akron-Fairgrove would receive about an additional $31,560 for next year starting with the first State Aid payment in October and it would be spread out over the school year with eleven payments of $2,869 for each of the eleven months,” said Superintendent Stephen Ley. “The bill still has to go to the senate and could be changed before it is signed.”
Also, all of the details on the state aid haven’t been worked out – such as will increases be on a blended count of summer and fall student enrollment; as it has been, or will it be on actual student count.
If the state does follow through with the proposed increase, it won’t change the financial plans of some districts.
“With that kind of (little extra) money, we are just going to continue with business as usual, in as much as we are not going to make any drastic expenditure plans with those few dollars,” said Ley. “We are still operating with 2006 state aid support levels.”
If the proposed budget is approved, the increase will bring the per-pupil state funding to $6,966 from $6,846 for schools in the Tuscola County Advertiser’s readership area expect for the Owendale – Gagetown School District which receives $7,014 per student now. There are other schools in the state that receive a higher per-pupil state funding – about $7,320, but they not expected to get the increase.
Plus, schools could get additional funds from performance grants for such things of out-sourcing bookkeeping, food services, and custodial work.
“Most area schools are not getting much additional foundation money,” said Owendale – Gagetown School District Superintendent James Wencel. “Most schools should qualify by meeting the 6/7 best practices (out-sourcing).”
For schools that qualify for additional funding in the Thumb area, the average is $40 per student, except for Vassar Public Schools’ $70 while for Owendale- Gagetown is zero.
“The little that Owen-Gage will receive is not what we need to avoid cuts,” said Wencel. “I guess it is better than getting cut again… but not much better.”
Some superintendents, like Ley, feel the projected revenue numbers are on the high side; and noted until the governor’s signature nothing is final. By his estimation, the state’s projection is about $12,000 more than his calculation of what Akron – Fairgrove would receive.
According to the preliminary numbers from the School Equity Caucus’ estimated impact of House Bill 5372 the following schools could receive about:
Akron – Fairgrove Schools – $86,426.
Caro Community Schools – $499,242.
Cass City Public Schools – $326,323.
Kingston Community Schools – $184,165.
Mayville Community Schools – $233,065.
Millington Community Schools – $412,045.
Reese Public Schools – $266,823.
Unionville – Sebewaing Area Schools – $238,002.
Vassar Public Schools – $476,021.
Frankenmuth Schools – $232,024.
Owendale – Gagetown Schools – $28,223.
While the proposed numbers look good on paper and in theory, nothing is locked in yet until it gets the governor’s signature.
“By the chart, we could be getting about $300,000 adding everything together but that is still far short,” said Cass City School District Superintendent Jeff Hartel. “Retirement costs increased from 24 percent to 27 percent. The state is giving some of that back but it’s not an offset.”
The retirement offset in the state’s proposed 2013 budget vary district by district. For the Akron – Fairgrove School District it’s estimated to be $27,192 to $181,962 for the Caro Community School District.
“Schools have to have a budget together by next month,” said Hartel. “We don’t know what our enrollment will be or exactly what our state aid will be. Until the governor signs the budget, we won’t know our fiancees for sure.”
The state’s next fiscal year starts Oct. 1, while school district’s next year starts July 1.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at [email protected]

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