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Whitmer announces K-12 funding priorities, proposes eliminating longtime school funding gap

In just one year, Michigan has gone from a nearly $3 billion deficit to a $3.5 billion surplus, according to the state.

LANSING, Mich — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday her funding priorities for K-12 education, proposing to use a budget surplus to eliminate the longtime funding gap among school districts.

According to the Associated Press, K-12 districts have struggled with a funding gap ever since Michigan overhauled the financing of public education some 27 years ago. Now, thanks to the American Rescue Plan and state revenue increases, Whitmer says a surplus in funding exists to invest in schools.

“Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to help each and every student recover academically, mentally, and physically,” Whitmer said. “As we emerge from the pandemic and begin our economic recovery, we must work together to provide equitable school funding, attract and retain top talent, facilitate post-secondary transitions, and build stronger, safer schools.

“With the resources we have available to us thanks to federal aid and a state surplus, we can make lasting, transformative investments in our kids and schools that will have positive impacts for generations.”

RELATED: Whitmer signs bill increasing flexibility for schools

In just one year, Michigan has gone from a nearly $3 billion deficit to a $3.5 billion surplus, according to the state. The framework Whitmer announced Thursday puts hundreds of millions of dollars toward student academic recovery and mental health, along with funding to hire and retain teachers, counselors, nurses and more.

“As a dad with young kids, I know how stretched thin working parents are especially as COVID has brought to light so many underlying economic, health, and social issues in Michigan,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. “And as I think about my own children’s future, I want them to have the best possible education with all of the resources and support they need.

“With the billions we have available to us we can make that goal—one shared by every parent—a reality here in Michigan. We can make the necessary investments in our kids and future generations.”

Under the proposal, all districts and charter schools would receive $8,692 in base per-student aid from the state. That is $581, or 7%, more for most.

Additionally, an existing $418 gap between lower- and higher-funded schools would be fully closed.

The AP contributed to this report. 

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