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WATCH: Whitmer signs K-12 education funding bill

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Jul 13, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed on Tuesday the School Aid budget into law in the presence of students, educators and school administrators at Kentwood Public Schools.

RELATED: Michigan Legislature approves major boost in K-12 funding

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The signing of the bill helps the state reach its goal of eliminating the funding gap between districts at the minimum and maximum foundation allowances.

The bill finalizes the fiscal year 2022 School Aid budget, which totals $17.1 billion including the $85.4 million from the state’s general fund and provides cost adjustments and supplemental funding for the current 2021 year.

“As we look to the next school year and beyond, we know that every student deserves to be funded at the same level to ensure an equal opportunity to succeed, and I am proud to say that we are able to do that today,” Whitmer said. “The funding provided to our schools today marks the end of a 27-year journey to close the gap between our districts. This equalized funding will improve the quality of educational opportunities for schools and students across the state and set a solid foundation for which to build our future.”

The budget also increases access to early education through the Great Start Readiness Program, which provides preschool to families at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.

The new investment includes $121 million in federal funding and $47.5 million from the School Aid Fund, for a total investment of $168.5 million.

Full-day allocation per child was increased from $7,250 to $8,700 and additional funding is provided to expand the program.

It’s the first of a three-year phase-in that seeks to ensure access to 22,000 additional income-eligible children by the fourth year.

“This expansion will provide broad access to critical early education programs for thousands of Michigan families,” Whitmer said. “When we provide for comprehensive preschool programming, it not only sets the student up for a lifetime of success, but it has a direct and positive impact on the student’s families and the communities where they live.”

In addition to closing the gap and increasing access to preschool programming, the 2022 School Aid Budget makes the following investments:

  • The budget recognizes the need for additional school counselors, psychologists, nurses, and social workers by providing $240 million over 3 years for additional hirings in high-need districts. After 3 years, these new hires are fully funded in an ongoing manner by the district.
  • The mental health of our students continues to be a top priority. This budget provides an increase of $17 million to support school-based mental health programming which will help ensure our students have access to the resources they need to live happy and healthy lives.
  • Additional investments for Special Education in the amount of $74.2 million will ensure our students and educators can excel in the classroom.
  • The budget also provides funds for students who need them the most through a weighted funding formula which distributes education dollars more equitably:
  • Maintains funding for economically disadvantaged and adds $1.5 million for dental screenings.
  • Supports for English Language Learners are increased by 4% and proration of funding is eliminated with an investment of $12.2 million.
  • Small, rural, and isolated districts receive a $1.4 million increase, bringing total added funding to $8.4 million.
  • The budget incentivizes districts to adopt a year-round school calendar by helping to provide for HVAC and infrastructure improvements that will improve learning spaces. An investment of $75 million in federal funding will assist in providing matching grants and $60 million from the School Aid Fund will increase foundation allowances for eligible districts by 3% for three years.
  • To better gauge student progress and intervention needs, the budget includes $11.5 million for benchmark assessments.
  • The budget includes $10 million to support school safety initiatives. Funding provides up to $50,000 per school building or $250,000 per school district.
  • Support for children impacted by the drinking water emergency in Flint is increased by $2.4 million.