Understanding Northville School Funding

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Scott Craig for his willingness to serve on the Northville School Board for the past four years. The Northville School District continues to be one of the state’s best school districts as highlighted by Newsweek when they listed Northville High School as one of the Top 500 high schools in the nation. It is through the dedicated service of the Northville School Board Members, faculty, parents and students that Northville continues to excel.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Craig chose to end his service with politically-motivated remarks that bear little if any resemblance to the truth in the Northville Record article of August 11. Mr. Craig has been a long-time president of the Northville Democratic Club and his remarks effectively demonstrated his partisan bias. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

First, I’d like to address Mr. Craig’s per pupil funding claim in which he insinuates that Republicans are responsible for the drop in the Foundation Allowance. Today, the Foundation Allowance for Northville stands at $8,169 per pupil. The district’s per pupil revenue dropped from $8,539 to $8,218 in FY2010…under Governor Granholm (D). When the per pupil allowance did drop under Republican leadership from $8,218 to $8,019 in FY2012, this drop was offset by decreases in Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) and healthcare expense obligations. There was no such offset when Governor Granholm made her reduction in per pupil funding.

Furthermore, under Republican leadership, the Foundation Allowance has increased every year since FY2012 as has the amount the state takes off the top of school funding and applies directly to shoring up the solvency of the school employee retirement system. The state now provides $8,169 per pupil and has limited school district-specific contributions to MPSERS to 25.78% of payroll as opposed to the 35% of payroll forecast under the policies promoted by the Democrat Party. The reduction in MPSERS payment obligations by over 26% allows more money to be put into the classroom.

Overall, total state funding for Northville Schools under Republican control has increased from the Democrat-led FY2011 budget of $53,125,163 to $57,616,944 in our latest FY2016 budget under Republican control. When one couples the increased funding with lower-than-forecast expense obligations, it is difficult for any objective observer to respect the partisan funding assertions of Mr. Craig.

I am not saying that everything is rosy regarding school funding under Republican leadership. I continue to oppose all school budgets which redirect money from the School Aid Fund in an unconstitutional manner to support Community Colleges. While this practice was started under Governor Granholm, it has regrettably continued under Republican leadership.

I would agree with Mr. Craig on one point, however. The state is micromanaging too many of the affairs that should be managed by the school district. The implementation of the Common Core Standards Initiative is the most egregious overreach by state government. It is accompanied by state mandates regarding teacher evaluations and burdensome administrative reports…although many of these reports are tied to federal not state funding.

The bottom line is that we have a lot to be proud of in our Northville Public Schools. We should not be attempting to divide people into partisan camps as promoted by Mr. Craig. Rather, we should be straightforward with our presentation of the facts surrounding the issues that we face. When we are all armed with the truth, we will be better equipped to collaboratively solve the problems that we face together.