Snyder’s budget plan looks good for schools
Some bright spots in the governor’s state budget proposal may put some color back into public school classrooms.
In a week when teachers are going to work dressed in black mourning clothes to protest the unprecedented appointment and confirmation of Betsy DeVos to lead the federal Department of Education, Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal contains good news for schools.
The proposal is only that, however. Lawmakers, particularly members of Snyder’s own Republican Party, have already suggested they may have different priorities than the governor’s office. Leading their list is turning rebounding state revenues, on the way up following the recession, into cuts in state income tax rates.
While we all would prefer to pay fewer taxes, slashing revenues and diving into the state’s rainy day fund is a formula for disaster the next time the state and national economies hiccup.
For schools, Snyder proposes three spending initiatives that teachers, students and families should welcome.
He proposes to increase money spent to help at-risk students get the help they need from the current $379 million to a total of $529 million. All school districts and charter schools would be eligible for an additional $778 per pupil to help children from low-income families. Students from disadvantaged households face extra challenges in the classroom and this would give them a hand up.
Second, he proposes to increase per-pupil spending for all students by $128 million, providing an additional $50 to $100 per student on top of the about $7,511 districts get this year.
Third, he proposes to give school districts more money — $50 per student — to educate high school students because it costs more to educate a high school student than it does to educate an elementary-age pupil. High schools need specialized and advanced tools and resources that elementary schools do not, such as science and technology labs, math and science teachers, counselors and more.
That high schools consume more resources and money should be obvious. What isn’t obvious is why it has taken someone in Lansing this long to recognize it. The $50 additional per student is largely window dressing, though. On average nationwide, it costs 12 percent to 15 percent more to send a high-schooler to class than his younger siblings.
Still, it is a good idea. We hope it survives the Legislature.
— Times Herald (Port Huron)