By ALANNA DURKIN , Associated Press
LANSING (AP) – The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate approved an education spending plan Wednesday that includes per-pupil funding increases for K-12 schools and early childhood education. With the move, the first part of the state’s $49 million state budget was sent to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
Republicans praised the $15.1 billion education budget, approved 25-12, mostly along party lines, for investing more in the state’s public schools, community colleges and universities, but Democrats said the plan doesn’t fix decades of cuts to Michigan’s public education system.
Under the plan, Michigan’s community colleges and universities will see about 2 percent more in overall funding next fiscal year and about 3 percent more would go toward K-12 public schools – including some put toward covering employee retirement costs.
All K-12 school districts would get at least a $5 per-pupil boost, though districts currently getting the least amount of state aid could see as much as $60 more per student. Schools could be awarded more per-pupil funding by meeting certain “best practices,” such as providing online learning opportunities.
Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, a Taylor Democrat, said financially struggling districts are the result of the failures of Republican’s policies toward education. He referenced Saginaw County’s Buena Vista School District, which was forced to shut its doors for more than a week earlier this month after it ran out of money to pay teachers.
“School districts in every corner of the state are collapsing,” he said. “For two years now, my Democratic colleagues and I have been calling for adequate funding for our schools … the results are in, your formula isn’t working,” he told Republicans.
The funding increase for Michigan’s public schools also includes adding $65 million to increase the number of children in the for the Great Start Readiness Program, a preschool program for 4-year-olds who have been diagnosed with a disability or are living with a low-income family.
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