|U.S. Census Bureau: Michigan school spending ranks 23rd in U.S., but state spends more on benefits|
By: Dave Murray
|June 21, 2012|
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Michigan ranks 23th in the nation in per-student school spending, but 16th in terms of employee benefits, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.
Michigan districts averaged spending $10,644 per student during the 2009-2010 school year when federal, state and local sources are included, slightly above the national average of $10,615 per student.
District of Columbia schools topped the list at $18,667 per student, followed by New York, Alaska and Vermont. Utah was at the bottom, with $6,064 per student, below Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The Census Bureau reports that the national average on school spending is up 1.1 percent from a year ago, and has more than doubled since 1992, from $5,001 per student to $10,615.
The bureau collects data from state governments and includes all public schools, including charter schools.
The report comes as Michigan lawmakers increasingly talk about overhauling the state’s school funding system, which last was reworked in the early 1990s when Proposal A shifted the burden from largely local property taxes to a state sales tax.
Michigan budgets about $12 billion on K-12 education, and Gov. Rick Snyder said he wants to start discussing a new funding system, possibly starting the conversation next year.
"After 10 to 20 years, you tend to find the cracks, and why things aren`t working well," he said in April. "And we need to revisit these things.
"There`s not a short-cut answer. That`s something that does deserve a wide-scale review. You have the whole issue now of districts that tend to get more money and districts that get less money with different tax bases. And you have the issue of charter schools now in the equation."
Lawmakers have said they want to consider shifting to a performance-based funding plan.
This year, a majority of districts will get a $6,966 per-student grant from the state, along with additional money to help cover retirement costs and meeting “best practices,” as well as applying for grants for technology and expenses related to efficiency projects.
A bill that makes significant changes to the school employee pension and retiree healthcare programs was approved by the state House this month and could see action in the state Senate on July 18. The House bill would save districts about $300 million next year.
Michigan’s spending on instructional salaries is ranked No. 30 in the nation, but Michigan teachers have better benefits, according to the Census Bureau.
The state spent $3,923 per student on instructional salaries, ranked No. 30, while spending $1,859 per student on benefits, ranked No. 16. The national average for salaries is $4,376 per student and for benefits it is $1,514.
New York schools spend the most on teacher salaries and benefits, with $8,277 per student on salaries and $3,688 on benefits. Utah is at the bottom on salaries with $2,566 per student, and Texas is last with benefits with $679 per student.
Michigan is below the national average on general administration spending, and just about at the average for school-level administrative spending. The state is ranked 33rd in general administrative spending at $173 per student – the national average is $199 – and No. 24 at the building level, at $572, just $2 below the average.
Public schools spend $593.7 billion in 2010, up 0.5 percent from the previous year, with local governments contributing $261.4 billion, state sources offering $258.2 billion and the federal government accounting for $74 billion.
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