We've known since the Michigan Legislature passed the School Aid Fund budget back in June that there was a new $240 million line item to provide funding for districts with the greatest need to hire school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and nurses. This week, MDE released the details on how that program would be administered. Specifically, they released the program application and let districts know that the application period is now open.
To review the statutory language (which MDE also recaps in their memo), here are the requirements for the program:
- To be eligible for section 31o funding, districts must hire additional school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, or school nurses by March 1, 2022.
- The funding will provide funding for staff hired under this section on the following schedule:
- 100% of the annual cost of newly hired for the first year,
- 66% for the second year,
- 33% for the third year,
- To qualify, a recipient district must fully fund these staff after three years of funding (i.e. for at least a fourth year).
- MDE must award funds to districts with the greatest need for school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, or school nurses as determined by their prior year staff to student ratios for those positions. The law specifies target ratios against which MDE will measure districts.
- Section 31o also requires MDE to prorate payments on an equal percentage basis if the amount requested by districts is greater than the amount appropriated in this section.
The language requiring MDE award funding based on need would seem to conflict with the language requiring MDE to prorate payments if funding is insufficient. It is unclear at this point whether or how MDE intends to handle this seeming conflict. MASSP has asked for clarification and will keep members updated as we get more information.
For now, the application is now open, and all districts are eligible to apply. To be eligible for Section 31o funding, districts must complete the application at Michigan Department of Education 2022 Section 31o Application (state.mi.us).