SOUTHFIELD - State Representatives Rudy Hobbs (D-Southfield), Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods), Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), Tim Greimel (D-Pontiac) and Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) held a press conference today and called on Governor Rick Snyder and Legislative Republicans to restore school funding to the proposed Republican-backed education budget. The proposed budget, now in a conference committee, allows last year’s nearly a billion dollar raid of education funds to stand, and does not increase the per pupil foundation allowance which was cut $470 per pupil in the current fiscal year budget. The representatives were joined at their press conference held in front of University Academy by Southfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson.
“Oakland County classrooms have lost millions of dollars and that means students are trying to learn in crowded classrooms with fewer resources,” said Rep. Hobbs. “In this new proposed budget, the Republicans have done very little to improve this situation at our schools. We have to do a better job of supporting our students or else we put Michigan’s economic recovery at risk. Educators will be hard-pressed to teach our students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and the workforce in this anti-education environment that the Republicans are creating. “
The proposed budget offers no increase in the per-pupil foundation allowance, so approving it means schools still have to live with the $470 per-pupil cut from this year’s budget. The proposed budget also pits schools against each other competing for small increases if they meet vaguely defined “best practices” - such as maintaining an online dashboard - which do nothing to improve classroom instruction or provide more resources for students. In reality, the total recommended expenditures for schools decline from Fiscal Year 2012 to Fiscal Year 2013 and decline again in Fiscal Year 2014 making the budget a net loss, and the School Aid foundation allowance for schools will actually be at its lowest level since 2006.
“This budget takes risks with our children’s education by forcing schools to adopt ‘best practices’ like Internet dashboards and other proposals that do nothing to help students learn,” said Rep. Cogen Lipton, who is the Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee Vice Chair. “Our students need the latest technology and up-to-date books and resources so that they are prepared to succeed in college, a university or a trade school. Although our amendments were defeated by the Republican majority, we will continue fighting to fix this budget in conference committee.”
Schools have already lost nearly a billion dollars in funding during this current budget year. So far the Southfield Public Schools have lost nearly $1.9 million, Oak Park City Schools have lost nearly $1.3 million, West Bloomfield Schools have lost nearly $1.2 million, Pontiac Schools have lost nearly $2.2 million, Royal Oak Schools have lost nearly $900,000, and Farmington Public Schools have lost as much as $2.1 million.
“Our children deserve better than overcrowded classrooms and fewer course choices,” said Rep. Brown, who is the House Education Committee Minority Vice Chair. “If the Republicans succeed in locking in last year’s cuts, however, we risk losing a generation of students and the contributions they could make, and we put Michigan’s economic future at risk. Excellent schools will attract new businesses and jobs to our communities, but not if we don’t support our schools and so far this budget doesn’t do that.”
For a district specific break down of education cuts go to the House Democrats “Fight School Cuts” website at www.FightSchoolCuts.com.
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