More money for schools

CALUMET – The Michigan Legislature recently approved a new state budget, and it includes varying increases in education funding for all school districts in the state.

The state spending bill was sent to Gov. Rick Snyder Wednesday, and it includes increases in funding for K-12 schools, as well as increases for community colleges and state universities.

Darryl Pierce, superintendent of the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, said the increase in state foundation grant funding for the 2014-15 school year is welcome, but it is still less than the historic high the district received.

Pierce said C-L-K will get the base increase of $50 all districts will get, and another $125 per pupil “equity” payment, which is intended to bring the lower-funded districts closer to what the higher-funded districts receive.

The per-pupil funding for C-L-K for the 2014-15 school year will be $7,251, Pierce said, which is a 2.5 percent increase over what the district received for the 2013-14 school year, but less than the $7,316 per pupil the district received in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Although officials with some school districts in the state think the increase in the per-pupil foundation isn’t enough to compensate for the increase in retirement costs, Pierce said that increase doesn’t really bother him.

“That’s more on the expenditure side of things and part of doing business,” he said.

Pierce said the per-pupil funding increase won’t allow for any extra spending in the district.

“This will keep us operational,” he said. “This will help us balance our budget.”

Pierce said other funding the district will receive from the state includes $59 per pupil for retirement offset, and $70 performance incentive payment based on results for Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests. He’s not certain, yet, if the district will get $50 per pupil for achieving at least seven of nine “Best Practices” criteria.

The per-pupil funding is split between the state foundation grant and funding provided by local property taxes.

Although he does appreciate the 2.5 percent increase from the state, Pierce said it’s less than the 3 percent increase the 28 state community colleges and the 5.9 percent increase 15 public state universities are receiving.

Monica Healy, superintendent of the Hancock Public Schools, said the district will also get an increase of $175 per pupil from the funding for the 2013-14 school year, bringing the total to $7,251 per pupil. The district will also receive per pupil a $30 performance incentive, $51 retirement offset and $50 for meeting at least seven of nine criteria for Best Practices.

With some of the expenditures the district has, Healy said the per-pupil increase will actually be less than $175.

“It’s a bottom line increase of $115,” she said. “It helps, but it doesn’t help as much as people may think.”

Adams Township School District will receive a per-pupil foundation of $7,251, $51 retirement offset and $60 performance incentive. Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools will get a per-pupil foundation of $7,251, $53 retirement offset and $60 performance incentive.