Open Letter on Impact of Income Tax (School Aid Fund) Recalculation

Dear Sen. MacGregor:

First, let me thank you for standing up for kids by agreeing that lame duck is no place to work out a solution to the MPSERS challenge. You and I both agree a change is needed, since it is highly unlikely the legislature will undo the policy damage that caused a substantial portion of the shortfall. However, that change should be well designed and based on empathy for public school children as well as their teachers, present and future.

I have one additional concern and that is with the proposed alteration to the way income tax revenues are distributed into the School Aid Fund (SAF). While I realize that proponents are calling this a “technical fix” to the current distribution system, that “fix” is likely to cost schools roughly $287 per child in per pupil funding statewide. That’s a cut that could not be sustained by most districts, particularly those like Godfrey-Lee that are home to a large percentage of urban poor and English language learners.

For your convenience and to provide a visual of the impact to our district, I’ve attached a copy of our foundation allowance going back to the advent of Proposal A and the state takeover of school funding. It includes a projected per-pupil reduction for 2018 should this “technical fix” gain wheels and pass. As you will note, it would have a notable negative impact particularly given the inflation-adjusted value of our per-pupil foundation allowance. In effect, the value of our foundation would be at the lowest since 1995. This of course covers a period of far greater expectations for public schools and substantially higher academic standards despite a larger percentage of students with significant needs.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-8-05-44-amPlease do what you can to block this “technical fix” and resulting cut of over $430 million to the SAF. As we all try to grow strong roots for Michigan’s “Top 10 in 10” educational initiative, now would not be the time to reduce school funding.

Sincerely,

David

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About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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