Michigan residents unravel education funding

By Stephanie Hernandez McGavin
The Meridian Times

In the barrage of budget proposals, school funding bills and teacher retirement benefit reforms, Michigan residents help explain the current state of Michigan education. The Proposed Budget
Although Gov. Rick Snyder proposed a $75 per pupil increase in his budget, Okemos Public Schools director of finance Robert Clark said the fixed cost of foundation allowances does not account for natural cost increases in schools. The foundation allowance, which combines local and state funds and allocates a per pupil amount to each school district, is $8,099 per student in Okemos schools. Clark said that if the enrollment in Okemos schools did not continue to increase, as it currently is, the schools could not remain “above water.”

Clark said that dependance on foundation allowances leads to the inability to offset natural increasing costs like inflation, insurance premiums and contractual teacher pay increases. The Okemos school district was already facing budget cuts that forced it to freeze teachers’ salaries and pensions, search for less experienced—and cheaper—teachers and reduce health care quality and coverage.

Pensions biggest change to Intermediate School District budget

By Maleah Egelston
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

The Ingham Intermediate Board of Education’s audit report showed that it was under budget for the 2012-2013 school year. Auditing is part of the school district’s financial routine in order to keep the district transparent, said Lonnie Thomas, district public relations and communication assistant. Bruce Dunn, a CPA from Maner Costerisan who prepared the report, said that the biggest changes in last year’s budget was the new pension system the district had to implement. The pension changes resulted from the 2012 Pension Reform Act, which set new standards for school employees’ pensions including capping employer contributions, limiting the coverage of retired employees and changing employees’ options for health coverage. These changes increased the cost of the school district’s pension plan from $4 million to $5.3 million over the last school year.