Governor Whitmer has signed all of the 2019-20 state budget bills, including the K-12 budget. But she exercised her line item veto authority extensively, especially in the School Aid budget where she struck 40 line items totaling $132 million. And while most of the struck line items would have gone to vendors or specific programs rather than local districts, some items that were struck (the foundation increase for charter schools or $7 million in funding for small, isolated districts) are guaranteed to draw ire.

While the dust is far from settled, it's now possible to see the overall budget picture. So rather than just talking about the laundry list of vetos, let's review where things stand with the budget as a whole.

Core Spending Items

  • A foundation allowance increase of $120-240 on the 2X formula. This moves the minimum foundation from $7,871 to $8,111 (a 3.0% increase) and the state maximum guaranteed foundation allowance would increase from $8,409 to $8,529 (a 1.4% increase). This shrinks the gap between the minimum and maximum foundation to $418 per pupil. EXCEPT...
  • No foundation increase for charter schools. The Governor line item vetoed the $35 million that would have paid for a foundation increase for public school academies, so those schools will continue to receive the same foundation payments as they did last year.
  • A two percent increase in the special education reimbursement rate. $60.2 million in School Aid Fund (SAF) went to increase reimbursements for districts’ and ISDs’ special education costs by approximately 2.0 percentage points.
  • The CTE per pupil incentive was retained at $25-50 per pupil. The Legislature proposed putting $5.0 million in one-time funds to double the per pupil incentive payments for CTE students, but that increase was vetoed. As they have in the past, these payments will go to the student's local district even if the CTE program was being provided by the ISD.
  • Eliminates the $25 per pupil high school per pupil bonus.
  • At Risk funding increased by $5 million. Given the size of this line item and the number of affected students, the small increase means funding is functionally the same as last school year.

Key Boilerplate

  • Qualifying professional development could count as instructional hours AND days.Boilerplate language would allow up to 38 hours of qualifying professional development to count as instructional time. Professional development would have to meets the requirements of the law (e.g. is aligned to your SIP, is embedded throughout the school year) to qualify.
  • Eliminates language that would have required districts to redirect At Risk dollars. For a number of years, the legislature has been threatening to force districts to redirect At Risk spending to pay for tutoring and similar services if they didn't hit an arbitrary 50% proficiency target in 3rd grade reading, 8th grade math, and 11th grade college and career readiness. That language was removed from the budget, not just delayed as in past years.
  • Ambiguous language about closing Partnership Schools now clearly states that school closure is an option, but not a mandate.

Veto Review

Rather than slogging through the full list of gubernatorial vetos, the list below highlights some key items that will be of most interest to or have the largest impact on most Principals.  If you want to parse through it, the full list of Governor Whitmer's vetos is available here (School Aid vetos take up 2 of the document's 8 pages starting on page 7).

One thing to note about all of these items is that the money doesn't go anywhere. It just reverts to the School Aid Fund (or the state's general funding, or wherever the money came from). I cannot be spent without the Legislature passing and the Governor signing another appropriations bill. So while these items are gone for now, expect negotiations on a supplemental budget to bring some of them back into the mix.

  • $35 million in foundation allowance increases for charter schools. This money would have paid for charter schools to receive the same $120-240/pupil increase as other districts. Expect this to be at the top of the list of things to be renegotiated.
  • $7 million in supplemental funding for small, isolated districts. This funding is targeted at island schools, districts that have significant geographic issues, extremely low pupil counts and/or extremely low population density. This veto seems aimed specifically at bringing northern Michigan Republicans back to the table to negotiate.
  • $9.2 million to offset most of the cost for districts to purchase interim and benchmark assessments. Many districts have relied on this funding to offset the cost of purchasing assessment products like NWEA MAP.
  • $5 million that would have doubled the CTE per pupil incentive payments to districts. Districts will still receive the $25-50 per pupil they have been getting for the last few years.
  • $1.5 million for financial analytics tools Munetrix and Eidex. From a Principal perspective, these tools also have the capacity to process student growth data for the purposes of educator evaluation. Districts will have to pay for these tools out of pocket if they wish to continue using them.

Final Thoughts

This budget is now law. It's not a proposal. It's not still moving through the process. It's done. This means Principals and other educators can get about the business of figuring out what, if anything, they need to do to react.

However, just because the budget is law doesn't mean that some of the vetoed items can't be restored later.  So for those educators who – for example – work in a charter school or a district that received isolated district funding, the next step is a budget supplemental. There is at least $75 million in unspent School Aid Fund that could be appropriated if the Legislature can Governor can reach agreement on how to spend it.

As the supplemental process moves forward, MASSP will continue to keep members updated on how things progress.