Accelify Blog

Public Schools Brace for Deep Funding Cuts (MI)

March 30, 2011

For years, it has cost more to educate the area’s children than the state steered to local schools, a gap that’s expected to widen as Gov. Rick Snyder calls for cuts to K-12 funding to cover the exhaustion of federal stimulus funds and other shortfalls in Lansing.

Th e 21 school districts in the Enquirer’s coverage area spent a combined $5.7 million more than they took in between the 2007-08 and 2009-10 school years, according to an Enquirer analysis of schools’ financial documents. And, as of early February, districts were projecting a combined $4.2 million shortfall this school year alone, though the final budgets usually come in somewhat better than originally projected. The share of districts’ savings spent to cover yearly deficits doubled every year, the analysis found.

Area schools had a combined $48.3 million in their general fund bank accounts at the end of the 2009-10 school year, down from a combined $54 million at the end of the 2007-08 school year. Schools spent a combined $333 million last school year and are projecting $335 million in combined expenses this year.

Some districts were able to add to fund balances in that time.

Some, such as Lakeview School District and Pennfield Schools, were able to add because of growing student populations and others, such as Quincy Community Schools, added only after deep spending cuts.

But many districts have withdrawn hundreds of thousands or even millions from their accounts. Bellevue Community Schools has already emptied its bank account and plans layoffs and program changes to make up the shortfall. Several other districts’ accounts are approaching zero.

As Michigan runs out of federal stimulus dollars and tax revenue declines for the state’s general fund, next year looks worse. Local schools’ 2009-10 per-pupil payments were subsidized by $9.2 million in stimulus money and another $8.3 million in stimulus dollars are set to help schools hire teachers, none of which will be available next school year.

In a budget proposal Feb. 17, Snyder suggested a $470-per-pupil cut to local schools to help cover a shortfall somewhere between $1.4 billion and $1.8 billion. Snyder’s proposal awaits debate in the Legislature.