Cut to schools could be lower than school officials first feared

May 17, 2011

State lawmakers are still expected to cut the funding they provide K-12 public schools. But that cut could be lower than initially expected because the State of Michigan is projected to collect $429 million more in tax revenue than first expected.

Administrators at Grand Rapids Public Schools are pushing lawmakers to restore so-called categorical cuts before anything else. These are separate funds for schools to better handle specific issues– like declining enrollment, and bilingual and special education.

Grand Rapids school spokesman John Helmholdt says the categorical cuts disproportionately affect large, urban school districts. He says they’re only asking to restore cuts that would total $20-$40 million statewide.

“That would then make it a more equal and balanced cut that would help us certainly as a district but it would also make these sacrifices more shared.”

Every lawmaker has public schools in the district they represent. Many of those elected officials would like to see kids at those schools hurt less by the revenue cuts they approve at the state level.

There is talk of restoring part of a cut that would impact every school. The base-foundation provides schools a certain amount of money per student enrolled.

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s open to reducing the proposed cuts to schools. But he also wants to save some of the money to build up the state’s rainy day fund.