by Bruce Walker
The Michigan State Senate passed a School Aid Funding supplemental appropriations bill.
The entire $4.38 billion sum approved by the Senate on Tuesday afternoon is derived from federal funding, which includes $700 million of COVID-19 relief money approved last year during the administration of Donald Trump and another $3.66 billion from the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden in March.
If signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, House Bill 4421 will maintain current levels of state spending from state resources and state payments to locals would remain at current year-to-date levels, according to Senate Fiscal Agency Analyst Kathryn Summers.
The bill would amend the State School Aid Act to provide $4.3 billion of fiscal 2020-21 supplemental Federal appropriations as follows:
- $86,777,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding for emergency assistance to nonpublic schools as provided in Federal law (Sec 11o).
- $93,023,000 from the Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools funding to provide services or assistance to nonpublic schools as provided in Federal law (Sec. 11o).
- $840,677,500 for the remaining Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II funding distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocations as provided in Federal law, bringing the total to $1,490,677,500
- $3,347,849,700 in ESSER III funding distributed to districts based on their Title I, Part A allocations
- $5,548,500 for the remaining ESSER II administrative funding to the Department of Education, bringing the total to $8,281,500
The bill also amends Section 23b, which provides funding for summer school, before and after-school, and other programs. Amendments to this section would include allowing students to enroll in summer programming offered by any district (not just their resident district), allowing districts to use local assessments to make determinations of children with greatest need (in addition to bench mark assessment data) for summer programming, and removing requirements that summer programming be in-person.
Robert McCann is executive director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, a coalition of school superintendents from Genesee, Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and St. Clair counties. In a phone interview with The Center Square, McCann said there’s another $350 million of federal money left on the table that the Alliance would like to see appropriated for a school equalization fund.
“While it’s nice to see this funding move closer to being made available to schools across Michigan – albeit months overdue – the reality is that federal relief money alone is not going to allow school districts to plan for the upcoming year,” McCann said.
“We need the legislature to take action on a full 2021-2022 school aid budget immediately so districts have the certainty they require to prepare for the challenges ahead this fall,” McCann added.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.