The final details on the 2020-21 budget have been hammered out and SB 927 has now passed both chambers and is headed to Governor Whitmer's desk. The biggest item in the budget is a flexible, one-time $66 per pupil payment in addition to the foundation allowance. This additional money comes outside the foundation allowance and does not change the amount of a district's foundation allowance, which will remain the same as it was in 2019-20 before the $175 per pupil cut that districts absorbed. Other noteworthy items include adjustments made to the new Return to Learn pupil accounting language, particularly some additional flexibility with regard to logging two-way interactions.
Let's dig into the details.
- Districts will receive a one-time $66 per pupil increase in section 11d, which they will be able to spend the same way they can currently spend their foundation allowance. The funding will be allocated based 50% on the district's 2019-20 membership count and 50% based on their 2020-21 membership count. However, this does NOT affect the overall membership blend used to allocate the foundation allowance. The $175 per pupil cut that districts absorbed last year and that was backfilled with federal CARES Act dollars is also gone, so the net result is truly a funding increase, not a shell game.
- The foundation allowance will remain the same as it was to start the 2019-20 school year. The minimum foundation allowance for 2020-21 will be $8,111 per pupil and the maximum foundation (which has been renamed the "target" foundation allowance) will be $8,529 per pupil. This is the same as it was in 2019-20. The gap between the two, thus, remains at $418 per pupil
- $66 million has been set aside for payments to districts with increasing enrollment who are not realizing the full amount of their growth because of the change in the pupil membership blend made in the Return to Learn bills. However, this does not change the membership blend that was put in place for the 2020-21 school year. It remains at 75% based on last year's pupil count and 25% based on this year's pupil count.
- An additional $5.6 million has been allocated in section 31n for mental health and support services.
- A new $5 million line item will provide incentive payments to first year teachers who complete the 2020-21 school year as a full-time teacher at their current district. The amount of the incentive is set at $1,000 for teachers in districts with 70% or greater economically disadvantaged students and $500 per teacher for teachers in all other districts. However, the incentive payment is contingent of the teacher's employing district providing $500 per teacher in local funds in addition to the state funding. The incentive is intended to help with teacher retention in light of the pandemic.
- Districts will now have more flexibility in logging two-way interactions with students as required in several places by the Return to Learn bills. The budget expands the definition of “2-way interaction” to allow another district employee (besides the pupil’s teacher) who has responsibility for the student’s learning, grade progression, or academic progress to participate in the interaction. Additionally, those interactions don't just have to be related to a particular course, but can be "relevant to the pupil's overall academic progress or grade progression." Finally, the language also removes a provision requiring interactions to be initiated by the teacher, meaning that interactions initiated by the student or any other appropriate district employee can also be used.
MASSP has been advocating for flexibility on two-way interactions since the Return to Learn Bills originally passed and, while this change is not as significant as what we had been pushing for, it will hopefully help districts better manage and balance the workload of recording these interactions. Based on earlier conversations with MDE, we are hopeful that additional guidance will be available in short order, though Principals should note that MDE will need to wait until Governor Whitmer signs the budget before they can release any guidance.
- Language is Governor Whitmer's original budget recommendation released in February would have required that Partnership Districts replace the Principal as part of their turnaround strategy. MASSP was successful in getting this language removed.
- New boilerplate language clarifies the requirement for districts to administer the SAT and PSAT to their students this fall. For the 2020-21 school year only, the language requires districts to make the SAT and PSAT available in the fall to students who were not able to take the exams during the FY 2019-20 year. The language prohibits the exams from being considered as state summative assessments or the college entrance portion of the MME for the 2020-21 school year, meaning that this cannot replace spring administration of the SAT and PSAT. It also requires that students be encouraged, but not required, to take the exams.
- A new reporting requirement was added to the Extended Continuity of Learning Plan law. By January 15, 2021 districts will be required to report on the amount and type of training provided to teachers through professional development that was focused on how to deliver virtual content, and on the amount and type of training provided to parents and students on how to access and use virtual content provided by the district. Districts will be required to publish the report on their website.
The bill is now headed to Governor Whitmer's desk. Since this is a negotiated budget agreement where all parties came to the table (unlike last year when the legislature passed a non-negotiated budget), the Governor is unlikely to use her line item veto authority to any great extent and is expected to sign the bill in short order.
For a complete breakdown, you can find bill language and an analysis on the Legislature website.