Monday, September 28, 2009

Funding Michigan Schools 2009 and Beyond

I’ve been very quite over the last few months. With the continued drum beat of bad economic data filtering in there was only one, ONE, proposal that targeted cost savings for Michigan school districts -- Andy Dillion’s idea for a comprehensive reform of the health benefit for Michigan’s teachers. I applaud Representative Dillion on his proposal and subsequent plan. The essence of the plan is supportable, achievable, the savings are measurable, and substantial. I don’t feel this program should be managed by the state (any INSURANCE company can run such a plan - and that would disqualify MESSA because it is NOT an insurance company); there is clear evidence to support the savings realized from standardized programs and expanded participant pools. It’s a good start and deserves to move forward in the face of self interested and deceitful lobbying from MESSA.


What legislators, MESSA, and voters cannot hide from is the massive funding shortfall Michigan is facing over the course of the next few years. Any response must be

structural and long term. The picture is clearly presented by the House Fiscal Agency (direct link here -- THIS OPENS A PDF FILE):


(All $’s in Millions)

FY 2009-2010

FY 2010-2011

Revenue

$12,156.6

$12,476.3

Baseline Expenditures

$13,163.6

$13,143.2

Balance

-$1,007.0

-$666.9

Federal Stimulus Dollars

$805.1

$0.0

Balance Shortfall

-$201.9

-$666.9

It’s time for school boards to grow a spine and start doing the right thing, not the easy thing. In Birmingham we carefully considered, and then thoughtfully implemented, the contracting of custodial and transportation functions. That has saved our district nearly $8 million over two years! If other districts followed our lead the savings would preserve hundreds of teacher jobs and vital programing. Since 2002 Birmingham has pair over $22 million from our operating budget. More work lies ahead of us and we need legislative help from Lansing to achieve lasting structural changes (health insurance costs, pension costs) -- but if we all accept the truth that our economy has fundamentally changed, we can act in unison to right this ship without compromising the core mission of Michigan Schools.

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