Archived Story

Districts await budget details

Published 8:36pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

At first glance, Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed 2013 budget bolsters education by $113 million, plus $120 million from the general fund surplus for districts meeting five of six “best practices” and $70 million in performance funding for districts demonstrating student growth in certain subjects.
After that, though, there’s enough ambiguity to give Dowagiac Supt. Dr. Mark Daniel anxiety.
“We’re anxiously waiting for interpretation as to what this means for all of us,” Daniel said Wednesday. “We do not know what this actuallly translates to until it rolls out and these guidelines are clarified.”
Daniel felt “excited” by initial reports of a 2.8 percent to 3 percent increase because the district is still trying to make up $470 per pupil cuts made to the $6,874 state aid foundation amount two years ago.
Through that lens, Daniel said any additional amount may merely be offset by soaring retirement costs expected to exceed 30 percent by 2013-14.
Best practices are meant to improve schools by making them earn their money.
Dowagiac qualified for incentives last year, when it meant meeting four of five.
Now it’s five of six to qualify for further funds.
Practices districts must follow include: publishing a community dashboard; serving as a policyholder for health benefits; participating in schools of choice; monitoring student growth in each subject area at least twice a year; offering dual enrollment, advanced placement courses and post-secondary learning opportunities; and offering online or blended learning.
“I feel pretty good about that,” he said.
The sticky one for Daniel is monitoring student growth in each subject area at least twice a year until he sees more details about measures for grades 9-12.
With the change in assessment cut scores, if the state relies on MEAP or Michigan Merit Exam (MME), scoring changes could reduce the number of students considered proficient.

Gov. Rick Snyder has released his recommended state budget for the 2013 fiscal year. Some of the highlights include:

• Arts and culture: An additional $3.6 million for arts and culture

• Families: $25 million invested to expand Healthy Kids Dental Program; funding to enhance child welfare services for abused and neglected children; increasing the rate paid to foster and adoptive parents by $3 per day
• Economic development: A total of $195 million in funding for Michigan Economic Development Corp. to continue “economic gardening” with $25 million for film credits

• Education: An additional $113 million into education; $120 million for school districts who comply with “best practices”; $70 million in performance funding centered on student growth

• Higher education: Funding increase of 3 percent for community colleges and universities based on new distribution formulas.

• Municipalities: $210 million for economic vitality incentive program for local municipalities who comply with certain standards; $125.6 million for new incentive-based program for counties

• Public safety: An additional $15 million in general fund for law enforcement enhancement

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