Michigan’s schools will endure zero funding cuts
State Rep. Brad Paquette, of Niles, joined the Michigan House of Representatives in approving its plan for the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 K-12 budget on Wednesday.
Paquette, who serves on the House Education Committee, said despite the tight budget year the state faces in the wake of COVID-19’s economic impact, there will be no cuts whatsoever to the education budget. Every program will be protected, and school districts will even receive a $65 funding bump per-student across the board.
“In May, we were sure major cuts would have to occur in our state’s education budget,” Paquette said. “Instead, we worked to ensure last year’s funding levels were maintained, meaning not one single education program in Michigan will be forced to make any cuts in 2020-2021. Student and teachers will have all necessary resources for a successful school year.”
Under the plan, the state will dedicate about $15.5 billion to K-12 schools in the new budget year – exceeding the $15.3 billion originally established for the current fiscal year. Michigan’s minimum per-pupil foundation allowance will also remain steady at $8,111, with an additional one-time bonus investment expected to equal about $65 per student, an overall boost of about $95 million.
Highlights of the plan include:
- A continued commitment to literacy programs, because learning to read at an early age is a building block for future success.
- Making student mental health a priority given the many challenges and changes they have endured over the past year. The plan invests in school-based health centers and programs at the ISD level.
- Funding for districts to identify kids who need additional help and parents who need help finding childcare.
- Resources for students engaged in virtual learning.
- Ensuring funding for vital programs like CTE, special education, STEM competitions and First Robotics is held harmless.
- Protecting local control ensuring school districts are empowered to do what is best for their community’s families and young people.
- Guaranteeing financial stability for school districts that are growing, ensuring they receive the full foundation amount for every student.
Paquette, a former Michigan public school teacher, said it was among his priorities to address the teacher shortage and the declining number of newcomers entering the profession.
“Teachers are notoriously underappreciated, and they deserve our thanks for their selfless commitment to children,” Paquette said. “To encourage new educators to continue in the profession, we are offering a ‘new teacher’ stipend of up to $1,500 for their contributions to our state.”
The K-12 budget proposal follows the August approval of the Return to Learn plan, which empowered local school districts to do what is best for their communities and students when it comes to COVID prevention and learning methods. Now, Paquette said lawmakers are ensuring students, parents and teachers have the resources they need to succeed in their unique learning situations.
The plan invests $1 billion more in K-12 schools this academic year than it did in the 2016-17 academic year – even though the number of students enrolled in our public schools has declined statewide.
About a quarter of the annual state budget is devoted to K-12 education.
Rep. Paquette speaks on the House floor Tuesday afternoon prior to passage of a two bill package that would create a Student Opportunity Scholarship program in Michigan to help families with education expenses. Rep. Paquette says the plan will help the state move from what he calls the “cult of the average.”
State Rep. Brad Paquette, of Niles, today expressed full opposition to Berrien Regional Educational Service Agency’s (RESA) newly adopted policy granting 10 additional paid sick leave days to employees vaccinated against COVID-19 to be used if they contract or are exposed to the virus, but not to unvaccinated employees.