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CRC Column

The right to criticize government is also an obligation to know what you are talking about. 
-Lent Upson, 1st Executive Director of CRC  


Education Issues

Education/K-12/Higher Education

Public Education Governance in Michigan
Report 359 ( January 2010 ) 62 pages

This report analyzes how public education is structured and governed in Michigan. The report finds education governance to be complex with multiple government officials and agencies from all levels of government involved in education governance and policymaking. The report discusses the roles of the federal government, state government, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and public school academies (i.e., charter schools) in Michigan's education governance system. It used to be that public education in Michigan was the responsibility of local government officials, but now it is considered a high priority by officials at all levels of government mirroring a nation-wide trend toward more centralized education funding and governance. Beyond the formal education governance structure, other groups and actors have influence over education governance and policy, including federal and state courts, unions, state and local education associations, and community interest groups.

An interstate comparison of education governance structures puts education governance in Michigan into context. In general, Michigan has a large number of districts that tend to be smaller than average in terms of population per district, students per district, and geographic size. Michigan also stands out with a more centralized funding structure due to the passage of Proposal A in 1994, which gave the state the authority to determine operating funding levels for local school districts.

Reform of K-12 School District Governance and Management in Michigan
Report 369 ( May 2011 ) 72 pages

Both the federal government and Michigan's state government have been encouraging, and in some cases actively mandating, governance reforms. Michigan recently enacted legislation mandating governance changes in the state's "persistently lowest achieving schools," and on April 27th Governor Snyder called for a number of governance changes including a move toward a P-20 system of education. The interest in reform comes from dissatisfaction with the educational outcomes in some districts, increasing financial pressures faced by schools, and the belief that governance reforms can improve outcomes.

To see positive results, state and local officials must use the governance change to actually change the administrative and educational practices of district leadership and educators. While there are a number of models of governance reform, effective implementation of these reforms generally includes adherence to a number of key principles:

  1. A clear division of labor, authority, and responsibilities with the scope and limit of responsibilities defined
  2. A coherent strategy that can be understood and pursued
  3. Financial and operations transparency
  4. Representativeness and encouragement for participation
  5. Accountability
  6. Engagement of civic leadership and broad constituencies
  7. A mechanism for different actors in the governance system to learn their roles
  8. An agenda focused on student learning

In addition, the importance of good leadership cannot be overstated. This includes superintendents, principals, and teachers. A well functioning leadership team provides a foundation for effective governance and administration and an environment in which student achievement can be fostered. The key to effective school governance may be in combining good leaders with good governance structures; it is not clear that governance reform by itself can produce the desired results on a large scale.

The governance reform models reviewed in this paper include the following:

Dependent Schools - A system where authority is moved from the locally elected board to a higher level of government. The best example of this in Michigan is Detroit Public Schools, which are currently run by a state appointed manager.

Diverse Provider Model - A system in which parents are provided with a choice of different kinds of schools: district run schools, charter schools, and contract schools managed by private operators.

Private Manager Model - A system in which school districts contract with private companies (for profit or nonprofit) to manage and operate the districts and/or schools within the district.

Decentralized Decision Making - A system of education where authority and responsibility to make decisions on significant matters related to school operations are decentralized from the district to the school building level within a centrally determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards, and accountabilities.

Integrated School Systems - A comprehensive and integrated system of education that links all education levels from early childhood education through post-secondary training. Such systems are often known as K-16, P-16, or P-20 systems.

While there are virtues to all of the proposed reform models, none of them is a panacea. In particular, the diversity of Michigan's school districts means that it is likely that reforms models well suited for some districts will prove inappropriate for others.

Article VIII -- Education
Report 360-11 ( August 2010 ) 7 pages

According to the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, education is a power reserved to the states. Therefore, while the federal government plays a role in education, the ultimate authority over education resides with state governments. The responsibility of the state for elementary and secondary education and higher education is found in Article VIII of the Michigan Constitution. Article VIII outlines the roles of the state legislature, governor, state board of education, and superintendent of public instruction in regards to elementary and secondary education. It also addresses governance and statewide planning and coordination of higher education.

Article VIII has not been amended heavily over the years and does not have many inoperable provisions that need to be addressed, but a review of it does raise issues that would likely be addressed by a constitutional convention. One of the most significant issues a constitutional convention might address is current language in the constitution requiring the state legislature to maintain and support a system of public elementary and secondary education. Current language has not provided sufficient grounds for judicial intervention in school funding, but stronger language may make the state vulnerable to court challenges. "With the funding cuts to schools in recent years, some advocates of more funding for schools may be impatient with the political process and seek to increase funding through judicial intervention by inserting stronger language into the constitution as it relates to the state's responsibility to provide and support a system of free public education," said Jill Roof, CRC's Research Associate.

Additionally, the governance structure for elementary and secondary education may be reviewed, including the roles and authority of the state legislature, governor, and state board of education. "The delegates at the 1961 constitutional convention believed they were giving the state board of education a broad grant of authority," Roof said, "but the board in practice has taken on a consultative and advisory role, with the state legislature having ultimate authority over education."

Finally, the governance of the state's public universities and community colleges would likely be reviewed, as well as statewide planning and coordination of higher education, which is currently very limited.

../pdf FileMichigan Constitutional Issues ... Education
Report 313-7( September 1994 ) 4 pages

Examines provisions of Article 8 that a constitution convention might consider: aid to nonpublic schools; governance of K-12 and higher education; and the relationship between state board of education, the state superintendent and the governor.

PDF File Organization of State of Michigan Education Functions,
Report 335, ( January 2003 ) 39 pages

Several functions previously housed in the Department of Education were transferred out of the Department in the 1990s. Some of these functions, such as Disability Determination Services, have little discernible relationship to educational policy and have found more appropriate organizational locations. Others, such as the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), have a direct relationship to educational policy but were transferred to departments whose basic missions do not include education.

The Michigan Constitution prevents a clear line of accountability between the Governor and the Department of Education because the head of the department, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, is appointed by the separately-elected State Board of Education.

The approach adopted was to recommend placement of activities related to preschool and elementary-education policy in the Department of Education and to recommend creation of an Office of Standards, Assessment, and Accreditation Services to carry out an enhanced quality assurance and oversight function.

The principal organizational changes that would occur under the proposed structure would be transfer of Career and Technical Preparation and Adult Education from the present Department of Career Development to the Department of Education and transfer of MEAP from the Department of Treasury and the Center for Educational Performance and Information from the Department of Management and Budget to the Department of Education. Other changes were proposed as well.

Pre-School / Kindergarten

Policy Options to Support Children From Birth to Age Three
Joint Report ( November 2014 ) 57 pages

A new report released by CRC and Public Sector Consultants (PSC) suggests that state policymakers can make targeted investments in evidence-based programs to help ensure Michigan's youngest children are ready to succeed when they reach kindergarten. The jointly authored report analyzed current research on early childhood programs with the goal of identifying those most likely to produce the best outcomes for Michigan's children and for the state as a whole.

Extensive research has demonstrated that the period from birth to age three is critical to a child's development. Depending on circumstances, children can begin with a great start, or they can begin to fall behind. Research demonstrates that early intervention is far more effective at improving outcomes for children than later remediation.

"The research supporting early childhood investment is remarkable in its breadth and quality," says PSC Vice President Jeff Guilfoyle. "In addition to benefiting children, early childhood investments often pay substantial returns to taxpayers, and in fact, investment in research-based early childhood programs may be the single most effective economic development strategy that Michigan can pursue."

The report identifies four promising areas for investment:

  • Home visiting programs - These are voluntary programs that link parents with trained service providers (e.g., nurses, social workers) who coach families on how to best support their child, address the challenges they face, and teach ways to improve the home environment for children.
  • Access to medical homes - Children with access to medical homes have an ongoing relationship with a personal primary care physician, where the physician and other providers consider the needs of the child, provide enhanced access, and coordinate or integrate specialty care as needed.
  • High-quality child care - A growing body of research illustrates the link between high-quality child care and long-term outcomes for children. Positive child care environments promote children's progress in both academic and social skills.
  • Preschool for three-year-olds - The expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program has made preschool widely available to at-risk four-year-olds. Publicly supported preschool opportunities for three-year-olds, however, are far more limited. Some studies have found that adding a second year of preschool can lead to larger and more persistent learning gains than one year of preschool.

"While there is research supporting all of these programs, the research is strongest for home visiting," says CRC Director of State Affairs Bob Schneider. "A number of research-based home visiting programs have been studied using random control trials that follow the children for decades. These studies show the benefits of home visiting programs lasting well into adulthood."

Great Start, Great Investment, Great Future: The Plan for Early Learning and Development in Michigan
Joint Report ( May 2013 ) 50 pages

A report prepared in cooperation with Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Great Start and Public Sector Consultants, this is Michigan’s comprehensive plan for early learning and development. This plan includes a look at Michigan’s current system and offers recommendations for ensuring that every Michigan child is born healthy; developmentally on track from birth through third grade; ready to succeed in school when they arrive; and reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

Child Care and the State
Report 367 and Memorandum 1105 ( March 2011 ) 40 pages

The quality of care of young children reflects the values of the larger community, and can have a lasting impact on children's success in school and life. There are tens of thousands of individuals and organizations that provide child care in Michigan, and these providers vary drastically in quality. State government has defined a role in regulating, licensing, organizing, and in some cases funding, the multitude of child care providers.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has just released a study, Child Care and the State, that describes child care options and average costs and reports what is known about the effects of various child care arrangements on children's development. The study notes the evolving ideas about the "best" child care arrangements, describes state laws related to non-parental child caregivers, and reports on state and federal programs that provide funding for child care.

In Michigan, it is generally illegal to provide child care services for even one unrelated child without being registered or licensed by the Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing of the Michigan Department of Human Services. Child care facilities are defined and regulated by category: in home care, small family day care homes, larger child care group homes, and center-based care. The State of Michigan regulates child care in several ways: developing standards of quality care; licensing child care providers; and inspecting facilities. The state also administers a program that subsidizes day care for low income families, to allow the mother to attend classes, work, or engage in other specified activities.

A complex of child care coordinating and advocacy organizations has been developed in an effort to ensure the availability and quality of child care. The CRC report identifies the organizations and programs that are included in this complex.

Early Childhood Education
Report 366 and Memorandum 1104 ( February 2011 ) 77 pages

High quality early childhood education and preschool programs that implement best practices have been shown to improve school success and graduation rates for disadvantaged children. A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Early Childhood Education, describes programs that invest in the 'front end' of formal education: kindergarten, Head Start, and Michigan's Great Start Readiness Program. It also describes research on brain development that helps to explain why investing in early education may be a more effective strategy than other strategies that are being pursued.

School District Organization & Reorganization

School District Dissolutions: Another Approach to Address Local School District Fiscal Distress
Memo 1125 ( December 2013 ) 16 pages

In July, Michigan state government officials, acting under the authority of a new state law, dissolved two local school districts, resulting in the closure of all of the districts’ schools and the reassignment of the districts’ students to neighboring districts. The speedy dissolution of the Buena Vista and City of Inkster school districts came after the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the State Treasurer, determined that the districts were no longer financially sustainable. This report examines the state’s new policy allowing for school district dissolutions and its implications for local districts and the state at-large.

Although fiscal distress among Michigan’s nearly 550 local public school districts and almost 275 charter schools is not widespread, a growing number of districts are ending their fiscal years in deficit. Today, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction reported that 50 school districts ended the 2012-13 fiscal year with a General Fund deficit, the largest number of deficit districts since the passage of 1994’s Proposal A. Until recently, state officials relied exclusively on the emergency manager statute to directly intervene in the affairs of local districts to address fiscal distress; now they have another tool at their disposal.

CRC’s new report identifies many of the causes of school districtfiscal distress and the state’s oversight role in preventing distress from occurring in the first place. Additionally, the report discusses the justifications for state intervention, along with the state’s traditional response when districts are unable to address their problems on their own.

The report also examines a number of issues, some previously not contemplated, associated with the state’s new authority to dissolve local school districts under Public Act 96, including:

  • the state’s departure from prior laws that require local voterapproval to alter school district boundaries;
  • the differences between the new law and the emergency manager law for dealing with fiscal distress;
  • the provision of additional state resources to liquidate a dissolved school districts’ debts; and
  • the potential inequitable treatment of those responsible for paying the local 18-mill school operating tax.

Reform of K-12 School District Governance and Management in Michigan
Report 369 ( May 2011 ) 72 pages

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan is pleased to announce the publication of Reform of K-12 School District Governance and Management in Michigan. Both the federal government and Michigan's state government have been encouraging, and in some cases actively mandating, governance reforms. Michigan recently enacted legislation mandating governance changes in the state's "persistently lowest achieving schools," and on April 27th Governor Snyder called for a number of governance changes including a move toward a P-20 system of education. The interest in reform comes from dissatisfaction with the educational outcomes in some districts, increasing financial pressures faced by schools, and the belief that governance reforms can improve outcomes.

To see positive results, state and local officials must use the governance change to actually change the administrative and educational practices of district leadership and educators. While there are a number of models of governance reform, effective implementation of these reforms generally includes adherence to a number of key principles:

  1. A clear division of labor, authority, and responsibilities with the scope and limit of responsibilities defined
  2. A coherent strategy that can be understood and pursued
  3. Financial and operations transparency
  4. Representativeness and encouragement for participation
  5. Accountability
  6. Engagement of civic leadership and broad constituencies
  7. A mechanism for different actors in the governance system to learn their roles
  8. An agenda focused on student learning

In addition, the importance of good leadership cannot be overstated. This includes superintendents, principals, and teachers. A well functioning leadership team provides a foundation for effective governance and administration and an environment in which student achievement can be fostered. The key to effective school governance may be in combining good leaders with good governance structures; it is not clear that governance reform by itself can produce the desired results on a large scale.

The governance reform models reviewed in this paper include the following:

Dependent Schools - A system where authority is moved from the locally elected board to a higher level of government. The best example of this in Michigan is Detroit Public Schools, which are currently run by a state appointed manager.

Diverse Provider Model - A system in which parents are provided with a choice of different kinds of schools: district run schools, charter schools, and contract schools managed by private operators.

Private Manager Model - A system in which school districts contract with private companies (for profit or nonprofit) to manage and operate the districts and/or schools within the district.

Decentralized Decision Making - A system of education where authority and responsibility to make decisions on significant matters related to school operations are decentralized from the district to the school building level within a centrally determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards, and accountabilities.

Integrated School Systems - A comprehensive and integrated system of education that links all education levels from early childhood education through post-secondary training. Such systems are often known as K-16, P-16, or P-20 systems.

While there are virtues to all of the proposed reform models, none of them is a panacea. In particular, the diversity of Michigan's school districts means that it is likely that reforms models well suited for some districts will prove inappropriate for others.

Proposal E: Form of Governance for the Detroit Public Schools
Memo 1077 ( September 2004 ) 4 pages

CRC has released its analysis of Proposal E on the City of Detroit November 2 ballot. With expriration of the school reform board one year away, Proposal E allows voters to choose a new method of school board governance. CRC's analysis details a history of the relationship between the Detroit Public Schools and the City of Detroit, looks at other major U.S. cities in similar states of reform, and considers how the two options before the voters will result in changes in accountability, local control, and school improvement.

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages

Report 298, pdf File School District Organization in Michigan This paper provides background information useful for a serious discussion of school district reorganization by public officials and interested citizens. First, the paper provides an historical perspective of school district organization by tracing the evolution of school districts beginning with the period Michigan was a territory. It also describes the existing statutory methods for altering school district boundaries. Finally, the paper describes the shift in pupil membership to the smaller membership districts over the period 1970-1990, a period during which the total state membership declined in excess of 525,000 pupils. --- See also CC #995 --- ( November 90 ) 19 pages

CC 995, ../pdf File School District Organization in Michigan --- Summarizes Report #298 --- ( December 1990 ) 4 pages

Report 297, ../pdf File History of Relationship Between the Detroit Board of Education and the City of Detroit This paper describes the legal relationship between the Detroit public school system and the city government, and places that relationship in the context of the historical development of the Detroit Public School System. Sources used for this report include various reports of the City of Detroit Public Schools dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, City of Detroit reports, state statutes, and several accounts written by early Detroit educators and historians. ( July 90 ) 16 pages

Memo, pdf File Township, School District and Special District Government in Michigan, Monograph on the origins and issues surrounding the organization and implementation of these three levels of government. ( December 1961 ) 13 pages

A Survey of Selected Operations of the Lansing School District

School Districts: How Many Are Needed?
CC 641 ( May 1955 ) 2 pages

Investigates the need for consolidation of school districts.

pdf File School Organization - Detroit Metropolitan Area
Report to the Commission of Inquiry ( February 34 ) 20 pages

Considers the educational and financial aspects of a proposal to consolidate the school districts of Wayne County into a single organic unit. In 1934, there were 101 mutually independent school districts in the county, each under the control of a board of education responsible to the people of the district. Organization of a county unit presumably would involve consolidation of the districts of the county and the creation of a single small county board of education, responsible to the people of the county. The numerous local districts would be abolished and the several existing boards of education would cease to exist. the responsibility for the administration and supervision of the county district would be delegated by the county board of educaiton to a superintendent of schools who would be the chief executive of the public schools of the county.

pdf File Rural School Organization
Special Bulletin 229, ( January 1933 ) 49 pages

At a time when all governmental expenditures are being critically scrutinized by the public and by legislative bodies, with the purpose of effecting economies and reductions, public school expenditures come prominently to view because no other governmental function of the State requires so large an outlay of funds as does the public school system. Along with other governmental costs, public school expenditures in the State have increased rapidly in the past few decades until in 1930 the annual outlay for this service amounted to approximately 135 million dollars.

The one-room school districts are most frequently cited as proof that some organizational change in the public school system is desirable. Of the 6,775 school districts in the State, approximately 5,138 are one-room school districts. In the year 1930-31, 549 of these schools operated with an average daily attendance of 10 or less, and an average operating cost per pupil of $13.95 per month. At the other extreme, there were 220 one-room schools with an average daily attendance above 40, having an operating cost per pupil of $3.96 per month. It thus appears that these extremes point to an inefficient use and distribution of school facilities.

The Michigan Legislature of 1929, created a state educational survey commission to inquire into these problems. This commission, because of the limited amount of funds at its disposal, centered its attention on the problem of equalizing the school taxes and recommended a plan for this purpose to the legislature. In its report, however, the commission had the following to say regarding the present district organization.

"The two largest items in the cost of a one-room school are the teacher’s salary and the building. A county board of education by rearranging thy districts could reduce the number of buildings necessary and cut down the number of teachers required. The larger classes resulting would be advantageous to the pupils and would permit better supervision."

"The beginning of a county system of education should be set up at once. This should be accompanied by a continuance of the present study of school finances, together with a study of county school district organization of administration."

The recommendation of this commission with respect to continuing the study of school finances, together with a study of school district government, was acted upon by the legislature of 1931 by including "School District Government" when it created the "State Commission of Inquiry into County, Township, and School District Government." This study and report has been prepared in cooperation with this last named commission.

School Organization - Decentralization (Detroit)

CC 925, Detroit Ballot Issue -- Should Decentralization of the Detroit School District be Continued? ( August 1981 ) 2 pages

State Education Department Supervision

Public Education Governance in Michigan
Report 359 ( January 2010 ) 62 pages

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan analyzes how public education is structured and governed in Michigan. The report finds education governance to be complex with multiple government officials and agencies from all levels of government involved in education governance and policymaking. The report discusses the roles of the federal government, state government, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and public school academies (i.e., charter schools) in Michigan's education governance system. It used to be that public education in Michigan was the responsibility of local government officials, but now it is considered a high priority by officials at all levels of government mirroring a nation-wide trend toward more centralized education funding and governance. Beyond the formal education governance structure, other groups and actors have influence over education governance and policy, including federal and state courts, unions, state and local education associations, and community interest groups.

An interstate comparison of education governance structures puts education governance in Michigan into context. In general, Michigan has a large number of districts that tend to be smaller than average in terms of population per district, students per district, and geographic size. Michigan also stands out with a more centralized funding structure due to the passage of Proposal A in 1994, which gave the state the authority to determine operating funding levels for local school districts.

PDF File Organization of State of Michigan Education Functions,
Memo 1070, ( January 2003 ) 4 pages

-- Summary of Report 335 --

PDF File Organization of State of Michigan Education Functions,
Report 335, ( January 2003 ) 41 pages

Several functions previously housed in the Department of Education were transferred out of the Department in the 1990s. Some of these functions, such as Disability Determination Services, have little discernible relationship to educational policy and have found more appropriate organizational locations. Others, such as the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), have a direct relationship to educational policy but were transferred to departments whose basic missions do not include education.

The Michigan Constitution prevents a clear line of accountability between the Governor and the Department of Education because the head of the department, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, is appointed by the separately-elected State Board of Education.

The approach adopted was to recommend placement of activities related to preschool and elementary-education policy in the Department of Education and to recommend creation of an Office of Standards, Assessment, and Accreditation Services to carry out an enhanced quality assurance and oversight function.

The principal organizational changes that would occur under the proposed structure would be transfer of Career and Technical Preparation and Adult Education from the present Department of Career Development to the Department of Education and transfer of MEAP from the Department of Treasury and the Center for Educational Performance and Information from the Department of Management and Budget to the Department of Education. Other changes were proposed as well.

Intermediate School Districts

Public Education Governance in Michigan
Report 359 ( January 2010 ) 62 pages

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan analyzes how public education is structured and governed in Michigan. The report finds education governance to be complex with multiple government officials and agencies from all levels of government involved in education governance and policymaking. The report discusses the roles of the federal government, state government, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and public school academies (i.e., charter schools) in Michigan's education governance system. It used to be that public education in Michigan was the responsibility of local government officials, but now it is considered a high priority by officials at all levels of government mirroring a nation-wide trend toward more centralized education funding and governance. Beyond the formal education governance structure, other groups and actors have influence over education governance and policy, including federal and state courts, unions, state and local education associations, and community interest groups.

An interstate comparison of education governance structures puts education governance in Michigan into context. In general, Michigan has a large number of districts that tend to be smaller than average in terms of population per district, students per district, and geographic size. Michigan also stands out with a more centralized funding structure due to the passage of Proposal A in 1994, which gave the state the authority to determine operating funding levels for local school districts.

CC 976, Detroit and Wayne County Intermediate School Districts Ballot Issues ( October 1988 ) 8 pages

Schools - Management; Business Practices, Budgeting

Public Education Governance in Michigan
Report 359 ( January 2010 ) 62 pages

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan analyzes how public education is structured and governed in Michigan. The report finds education governance to be complex with multiple government officials and agencies from all levels of government involved in education governance and policymaking. The report discusses the roles of the federal government, state government, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and public school academies (i.e., charter schools) in Michigan's education governance system. It used to be that public education in Michigan was the responsibility of local government officials, but now it is considered a high priority by officials at all levels of government mirroring a nation-wide trend toward more centralized education funding and governance. Beyond the formal education governance structure, other groups and actors have influence over education governance and policy, including federal and state courts, unions, state and local education associations, and community interest groups.

An interstate comparison of education governance structures puts education governance in Michigan into context. In general, Michigan has a large number of districts that tend to be smaller than average in terms of population per district, students per district, and geographic size. Michigan also stands out with a more centralized funding structure due to the passage of Proposal A in 1994, which gave the state the authority to determine operating funding levels for local school districts.

School Finance - Public Support

Making Sense of K-12 Funding
Memorandum 1130 ( October 2014 ) 7 pages

Education funding has taken a front row seat in the current political debate. Claims and counter-claims about changes in state funding for K-12 education abound. As a result, citizens are left scratching their heads about what to believe.

To help clear up some of the confusion, this report explores the recent history of K-12 funding, discusses the important factors affecting the amount of money that school districts receive, and analyzes how much money is available to deliver classroom instruction.

CRC's new report answers three fundamental questions:

1) "Is school funding up or down compared to four years ago?"

Here the answer is an unequivocal 'up'. While total state funding is up over $1 billion from FY2011 to FY2015, the increase is almost exclusively earmarked to satisfy school employee retirement costs, specifically legacy costs arising from the financial market downturn and state retirement system reforms.

2) "Has education funding gone up as much as it could have?"

Here the answer is 'no'. State tax policy and budget decisions effectively stretched the School Aid Fund, leaving fewer dollars available for distribution to K-12 schools. The personal income tax and business tax reforms of 2012 substantially reduced the amount of state tax revenue deposited in the School Aid Fund. Also, lawmakers decided to fund certain state higher education appropriations from the School Aid Fund. Combined, these decisions have effectively reduced the amount of state resources schools receive.

3) "Are individual school districts better off today than they were four years ago?"

An answer to this question is far less definitive. While the amount of per-pupil funding is up, districts are paying higher retirement bills. This leaves fewer resources for other school expenses. Also, total funding at the district level is greatly influenced by the number of students enrolled. Because declining enrollment is a pervasive issue across the state, the vast majority of traditional public school districts must manage with less non-retirement funding.

School District Fiscal Health Improves, but Some Long-term Challenges Remain
Memo 1127 ( June 2014 ) 10 pages

Between fiscal year 2012 (FY2012) and FY2013, 85 percent of all traditional public school districts in Michigan saw their fiscal health improve or remain steady according to a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC), School District Fiscal Health Improves, But Some Long-Term Challenges Remain. This is a marked improvement from FY2012, when over 70 percent of traditional districts experienced increased fiscal stress and a decline in their health. The report also notes that the number of severely stressed districts (deficit districts) has hovered around 50 over the past three years, contrary to earlier warnings from state officials that the number of deficit districts could grow to 100.

CRC's new report finds that, overall, the fiscal health of Michigan school districts is a mixed bag and that the good news is tempered by some bad news, especially as it relates to the most fiscally-challenged districts in the state. This was confirmed recently by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan's quarterly update to lawmakers. While the vast majority of deficit districts are expected to reduce or eliminate their problems by the end of the year, nine districts are projected to see their deficits increase.

In addition to examining recent trends in state funding, student enrollment changes, and retirement system reforms, the CRC report analyzes school financial data compiled and reported by Munetrix, a private firm specializing in public sector financial management reporting. The report reveals that, over the past five-year period, about one-half of all traditional public school districts saw their fiscal health erode while the other health saw their health improve or remain constant.

School District Dissolutions: Another Approach to Address Local School District Fiscal Distress
Memo 1125 ( December 2013 ) 16 pages

In July, Michigan state government officials, acting under the authority of a new state law, dissolved two local school districts, resulting in the closure of all of the districts’ schools and the reassignment of the districts’ students to neighboring districts. The speedy dissolution of the Buena Vista and City of Inkster school districts came after the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the State Treasurer, determined that the districts were no longer financially sustainable. This report examines the state’s new policy allowing for school district dissolutions and its implications for local districts and the state at-large.

Although fiscal distress among Michigan’s nearly 550 local public school districts and almost 275 charter schools is not widespread, a growing number of districts are ending their fiscal years in deficit. Today, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction reported that 50 school districts ended the 2012-13 fiscal year with a General Fund deficit, the largest number of deficit districts since the passage of 1994’s Proposal A. Until recently, state officials relied exclusively on the emergency manager statute to directly intervene in the affairs of local districts to address fiscal distress; now they have another tool at their disposal.

CRC’s new report identifies many of the causes of school districtfiscal distress and the state’s oversight role in preventing distress from occurring in the first place. Additionally, the report discusses the justifications for state intervention, along with the state’s traditional response when districts are unable to address their problems on their own.

The report also examines a number of issues, some previously not contemplated, associated with the state’s new authority to dissolve local school districts under Public Act 96, including:

  • the state’s departure from prior laws that require local voterapproval to alter school district boundaries;
  • the differences between the new law and the emergency manager law for dealing with fiscal distress;
  • the provision of additional state resources to liquidate a dissolved school districts’ debts; and
  • the potential inequitable treatment of those responsible for paying the local 18-mill school operating tax.

School Aid Budget: Will FY2014 Increases Be Sustainable in FY2015?
State Budget Note 2013-02 ( July 2013 ) 8 pages

The recently enacted school aid budget provided Michigan public schools with small increases in per-pupil funding, but state policymakers may find it challenging to maintain those budget increases in FY2015, according to a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

The School Aid budget signed by the Governor in June will provide the average school district with a net increase of $60 per pupil in operational funding thanks to enhanced May revenue estimates which allowed the budget to increase by $126.6 million over the Governor's February budget recommendation. Those increases, however, rely on the utilization of existing fund balances. Those one-time revenues will not be available again in FY2015.

That creates structural issues next fiscal year, with another $246 million needed to meet escalating retirement system costs and another $65 million proposed by the Governor to finance a second-round increase for pre-kindergarten programs.

The report projects a shortfall of around $239 million in the School Aid Fund for FY2015 given current projections and assuming the increase for pre-kindergarten programs is implemented. That would mean further reductions that could wipe out the FY2014 gains unless new resources are tapped from the general fund or another source.

A major unknown is the eventual disposition of over $508 million in escrowed funds collected though a disputed three percent employee contribution implemented in 2010 legislation meant to cover retiree health care costs. The Michigan Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling that the charge is unconstitutional; the case is still pending before the state Supreme Court.

Funding for Public Education: The Recent Impact of Increased MPSERS Contributions
State Budget Note 2013-01 ( May 2013 ) 17 pages

Michigan public schools have seen fewer dollars remain available for classroom education in recent years as more of their revenues have been needed to meet unfunded retirement system liabilities.

Public school contributions to the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) have increased dramatically over the last decade. MPSERS provides for retirement benefits for public school teachers and staff as well as the staffs of community colleges and certain universities and public libraries. The contribution rate for public schools increased from 13.0 percent of payroll in FY2004 to 24.5 percent of payroll in FY2012. The primary cause has been sluggish growth in value of pension fund assets, an issue that came to a head with the severe financial market declines in 2008 and 2009. What followed was a significant increase in unfunded liabilities within the system, which fueled the increase in employer contributions to make up for the shortfall.

These new retirement costs have taken up a growing share of overall school revenues, leaving less for other educational purposes. Measured on a per-pupil basis, districts' contributions to the retirement system increased from 8.7 percent of per-pupil revenues in FY2004 to almost 14.8 percent of those revenues in FY2012 when public school employers contributed over $2.0 billion to cover their MPSERS obligations. The report shows that per-pupil revenues available to all public school districts in FY2012, after netting out the revenues needed to meet MPSERS contributions, declined by 8.8 percent from FY2004 levels after adjusting for inflation. For traditional K-12 school districts, the situation was even worse with inflation-adjusted per-pupil revenues after accounting for MPSERS costs falling by 13.1 percent from FY2004.

The report notes that while funding from the state has increased in recent years, most of the increase has been related to meeting these growing retirement costs and to restoring funds that had been offset by temporary federal stimulus funding.

The report notes that recent legislative changes aimed at reforming MPSERS should help contain and eventually reduce future public school contribution costs. But, in the near term, the crowding out effects of increased MPSERS contributions will remain an issue for public schools.

Financing Special Education: Analyses and Challenges
Report 378 ( March 2012 ) 65 pages

K-12 education and school funding have become perennial public policy issues discussed at local school board meetings, community and parent gatherings, and throughout the halls of the state Capitol. With respect to financial matters, debate often focuses on the near-term - budgets and funding decisions for the current and next years. However, this very important topic requires thoughtful debate that must consider the long-term perspective.

CRC's new report tackles the complex, and often confusing, web of fiscal issues surrounding the education of nearly 225,000 special education students each year, almost 14 percent of all students in public education. The report collects and synthesizes data from various sources, including the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Treasury, and individual intermediate school districts (ISD) to develop a comprehensive picture of special education finances - something that does not exist in a single source because of the structure of the finance system.

In addition to providing an explanation and review of the structure and history of special education finances in Michigan, CRC's research reveals fairly significant differences among school districts in a number of key areas;

  • concentration and distribution of special education students across school districts,
  • per-pupil revenues/spending,
  • revenue growth over time, and
  • property wealth and reliance on local property taxes,

In addition to looking at historical financial data, the report examines the challenges, prospectively, associated with financing special education. These challenges arise from state and federal mandates to provide specific services, but also from state and local revenue performance. Unlike general K-12 education funding that is controlled by state policymakers and financed by state taxes (the result of Proposal A of 1994), special education spending remains under the control of local schools and largely dependent on dedicated local property taxes. The report also highlights how state property tax limitations affect the resource base available to schools and the impact of the downturn in property values.

Distribution of State Aid to Michigan Schools
Report 371 ( August 2011 ) 87 pages

Proposal A of 1994 and the related school finance reforms met many of their initial goals, most notably greater equalization of per-pupil funding across Michigan districts. While the wide variance in revenues per pupil was a public policy problem that plagued the state for many years prior to Proposal A, the prescription to this problem has created new issues. Distribution of State Aid to Michigan Schools identifies a number of important issues that policymakers should consider when contemplating changes to Michigan's school funding model.

The major topics covered in the new CRC report include:

  • Issues surrounding the movement of school funding decisions from local districts to the state.
  • A look at how district revenues have changed since Proposal A, including viewing districts by pre-Proposal A funding level; impact of required retirement contributions; income of district residents; district property tax wealth; urban, suburban and rural districts; and the percentage of African American students in a district.
  • Evidence on the effect of increases in school spending on student performance.
  • Effects of enrollment changes and school choice on district finances.
  • Funding for "at-risk" pupils.

"It has been 17 years since Proposal A," said Thiel. "School finance is too important to leave on autopilot. Michigan needs to regularly examine how the system is working and assess if it is still meeting the needs of Michigan's students."

State and Local Revenues for Public Education in Michigan
Report 363 and Memorandum 1100 ( September 2010 ) 107 pages

This report focuses primarily on the state and local revenues available to support public education, with particular attention paid to the structure of the financing system and changes to it over time. This report also covers the major factors, economic, political, and demographic, that influence performance of state and local revenues. Despite the significant resources being dedicated to K-12 education, there are concerns that the system is somehow "broken" and that schools are "under-funded." Additionally, concerns about the long-term health of the financing system hinge on projections that spending pressures will outpace revenue growth prospectively.

Proposal 2006-05: Educational Funding Guarantee Law
Report 344 ( September 2006 ) 32 pages

The Citizens Research Council has released its analysis of Proposal 2006-05, the Educational Funding Guarantee Law, a statutory initiative that Michigan voters will be presented with at the November 7, 2006, general election. The proposal would amend the State School Aid Act to guarantee a minimum amount of state funding for K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities in Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07). For all years after fiscal year 2007, the proposal would guarantee funding increases equal to the annual change in inflation.

In addition to the state funding guarantees, Proposal 2006-05 would cap the amount of retirement contributions to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) made by K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities, and require the State of Michigan to make up the difference between the capped employer's contribution and the actual retirement contribution required by the system.

The proposal also contains a declining enrollment provision for K-12 school districts that are experiencing falling student membership. The provision allows the use of a three-year average to determine current-year membership. Finally, the proposed law would require the gap between the basic per pupil foundation allowance and the maximum state-guaranteed per pupil foundation allowance to be reduced from $1,300 to $1,000 by fiscal year 2012.

Proposal 2006-05: Educational Funding Guarantee Law
Memo 1083 ( September 2006 ) 7 pages

Summarizes the analysis of the initiated law to guarantee minimum state funding of education in CRC Report #344

Prospects for School Aid in the Economic Recovery,
State Budget Notes 2002-03 (March 2002 ) 4 pages

Discusses the prospects for state school aid, the largest category in the state budget, for the next 5 years and presents a scenario to finish the process of managing through the current budget problem.

pdf File How Local Economic Development Programs Affect School Funding,
Note 2001-01, ( January 2001 )

Proposal A of 1994 changed the dynamics of school finance. In doing so, reliance on property taxes for school funding was reduced and the impact that economic development programs have on school funding was nearly eliminated. This paper describes how those economic development programs and school funding interact.

Memo, pdf File State School Aid Systems An interstate comparison of the different ways state and local governments interact and share responsibilities for funding schools. ( August 1992 ) 6 pages

CC 998, ../pdf FileHigher Education Financing: How Michigan Compares with Other States ( June 1991 ) 4 pages

A comparison of public higher education financing in Michigan with the 14 other most populous states (over 5 million population) and the U.S. average shows that:

  1. Enrollment in Michigan public education institutions is relatively high.
  2. State-local appropriations per student in Michigan are relatively low.
  3. Average tuition per student in Michigan is significantly higher than in most other states and the U.S. average.
  4. Total appropriations and tuition per student in Michigan are above average.
  5. While the combined total appropriations and tuition per student has doubled since 1980, the total is up only 11 percent in constant dollars.

CC 994, pdf File Arguments Used by Plaintiffs and Defendants in School Finance Litigation (by John G. Augenblick) Discussion of the courts and the litigation process in school finance. ( October 90 ) 6 pages

CC 987, pdf File Total Financial Support for K-12 Education (1974-1978), Reviews the total revenue position of Michigan school districts during the 15-year period 1973-74 to 1987-88. ( February 90 ) 6 pages

CC 986, pdf File School-Finance Reform in Michigan: Will Judicial Intervention be Next? Examined the likelihood that the courts would be called upon to remedy per pupil funding disparities in the state's elementary-secondary education system. ( January 90 ) 6 pages

Report 296, School Finance Constitutional Amendment Proposals --- See also CC #984 --- ( October 89 ) 12 pages

School Finance Constitutional Amendment Proposals,
CC 984, ( October 89 ) 4 pages [50KB]

The legislature placed two school fiance reform proposals on the November, 1989 ballot. Proposal A: One-half percent increase in the Sales and Use Taxes with all revenues dedicated to schools; & Proposal B: Proposed to increase the Sales and Use Tax rates to 6%, create different levies for business and non-business properties, and equalize local school operating taxes. Proposal B required amending the State Constitution. (Both were defeated.)

PDF File School Finance Reform,
Memo, ( October 87 ) 3 pages

In February 1987 the Michigan State Board of Education appointed a 42-member Michigan School Finance Commission to make recommendations concerning school finance reform. This paper highlights the recommendations of the commission.

School Finance - State Aid

School Enrollment; Attendance (including student behavior & conduct codes)

State Support of Nonpublic School Students
Memo 1126 ( January 2014 ) 11 pages

Michigan’s recent winter storms shed light on some of the unique relationships that can exist between a local public K-12 school district and the private and religious (nonpublic) schools located with the district’s boundaries. The storms and frigid temperatures caused districts to cancel classes for a number of days, and many nonpublic schools were forced to follow suit. For some nonpublic schools, the decision to close was related to the fact that the public school district, which canceled classes, delivers educational services to, and provides transportation for, the nonpublic schools’ students.

Michigan law forbids direct public support of nonpublic schools; however, it allows state support of nonpublic school students enrolled in public schools. Students attending nonpublic elementary and secondary schools have long been able to enroll part time in public schools (both traditional public and charter schools) and receive instruction in non-core curriculum offerings. Student instruction in elective courses such as physical education, art, technology, and foreign languages is financed by the state dollars that public school districts receive through the per-pupil foundation grant that has been in place since adoption of Proposal A in 1994. The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that such arrangements do not violate the state constitutional prohibition against "parochiaid" -– direct state support of nonpublic schools. CRC’s new report, State Support of Nonpublic School Students, examines the history of Michigan’s policy behind "shared time" instruction, how it differs from "parochiaid," and participation in the program.

"It is easy, upon hearing about ’shared time’ instruction, to conflate the issue with ’parochiaid,’" said Craig Thiel of CRC. "The two are different in form and very different from a legal perspective."

CRC’s new report documents the observed growth in participation and possible reasons for such growth, including the financial incentives created by the per-pupil foundation grant. The report highlights how "shared time" enrollment affects state School Aid Fund finances, as well as the finances of individual districts. Some districts have increased their participation as a way to supplement traditional revenue streams and help them manage through difficult financial times. The report also discusses public policy issues raised by the mechanics of "shared time," particularly the per-pupil funding that accompanies nonpublic school student enrollment in public schools.

"Participation in ’shared time’ is at an all-time high with the state paying an estimated $57 million in fiscal year 2013 to educate nonpublic school students," said Craig Thiel. "Enrollment in ’shared time’ instruction continues to grow, even though statewide public school enrollment has been declining for years. This is a trend worth taking notice of."

Options to Address School District Accumulated Deficits
Memo 1114 ( July 2012 ) 4 pages

On Monday, July 9, the newly formed board of the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy signed an agreement with a charter school operator to provide all educational services to all of the Muskegon Heights School District beginning in fall 2012. This action effectively converts the entire school district to a charter school, which is part of the plan crafted by the emergency manager appointed under Public Act 4 of 2011 to simultaneously address the district's lingering financial deficits and ensure the necessary educational services are provided to the children in the district. As identified in CRC's June report, State Bailouts to Erase School District Accumulated Deficits, this plan will result in additional state funds being provided to the district to help eliminate the past deficit.

As a follow up to the previous report on the topic, this report highlights options for state policymakers to consider when dealing with school district accumulated deficits in fiscally failing districts. The options include, charter conversion, a direct state appropriation, an additional local tax, and district consolidation with state assumption of deficit. These options are presented in light of the Muskegon Heights plan, which is being pursued without a clear statewide policy and without the direct involvement of the Michigan legislature.

This report concludes that a state policy to provide additional resources specifically for past deficit elimination should, at a minimum, be transparent, equitable, transferable, and consistent with other reforms. Also, the additional resources must be short-term in nature and be accompanied by long-lasting governance, financial management, and educational reforms to ensure that distressed districts will not be seeking forgiveness again in 10-15 years.

State Bailouts to Erase School District Accumulated Deficits
Memo 1113 ( June 2012 ) 5 pages

Beginning in the fall of 2012 all educational services in the Muskegon Heights School District will be turned over to a charter school operator and the District will no longer be involved in the direct provision of such services under a plan proposed by the state-appointed emergency manager. This plan would be implemented under Public Act 4 of 2011. As part of this "charter conversion" plan, the District's multi-year accumulated operating deficit, projected to be $12 million as of June 30, 2012, effectively will be eliminated through a state bailout.

CRC Memorandum State Bailouts to Erase School District Accumulated Deficits explores the plans being proffered by the Muskegon Heights School District emergency manager and what they mean for the District and the state at-large.

The state bailout comes as a result of the unique interaction of Public Act 4 and the architecture of the per-pupil foundation grant, the primary school operating funding source. By turning educational services over to a charter school operator, the Muskegon Heights School District will be able to retain 100 percent of proceeds from the local 18-mill school operating tax to finance its accumulated deficit; effectively redirecting the use of this dedicated millage. To make up for the lost local revenues used to finance the foundation grant, additional state School Aid Fund dollars will be provided, dollar-for-dollar. Thus, the foundation grant will be financed 100 percent by the School Aid Fund. In total, this bailout is expected to cost other districts in the state approximately $840,000 each year.

Both the conversion of the entire district to a charter school and the attendant increase in state funds that comes with the new foundation grant occurs without state legislative deliberations or actions. While it is entirely possible that a state bailout is the only option available, the method in which this will occur is not completely transparent nor is it the product of a consistent state policy concerning the provision of additional resources to financially distressed school districts.

State Bailouts to Erase School District Accumulated Deficits
Memo 1113 ( June 2012 ) 5 pages

Beginning in the fall of 2012 all educational services in the Muskegon Heights School District will be turned over to a charter school operator and the District will no longer be involved in the direct provision of such services under a plan proposed by the state-appointed emergency manager. This plan would be implemented under Public Act 4 of 2011. As part of this "charter conversion" plan, the District's multi-year accumulated operating deficit, projected to be $12 million as of June 30, 2012, effectively will be eliminated through a state bailout.

This Memorandum explores the plans being proffered by the Muskegon Heights School District emergency manager and what they mean for the District and the state at-large.

The state bailout comes as a result of the unique interaction of Public Act 4 and the architecture of the per-pupil foundation grant, the primary school operating funding source. By turning educational services over to a charter school operator, the Muskegon Heights School District will be able to retain 100 percent of proceeds from the local 18-mill school operating tax to finance its accumulated deficit; effectively redirecting the use of this dedicated millage. To make up for the lost local revenues used to finance the foundation grant, additional state School Aid Fund dollars will be provided, dollar-for-dollar. Thus, the foundation grant will be financed 100 percent by the School Aid Fund. In total, this bailout is expected to cost other districts in the state approximately $1.2 million each year.

Both the conversion of the entire District to a charter school and the attendant increase in state funds that comes with the new foundation grant occurs without state legislative deliberations or actions. While it is entirely possible that a state bailout is the only option available, the method in which this will occur is not completely transparent nor is it the product of a consistent state policy concerning financially distressed school districts.

pdf File How Local Economic Development Programs Affect School Funding,
Note 2001-01, ( January 2001 )

Proposal A of 1994 changed the dynamics of school finance. In doing so, reliance on property taxes for school funding was reduced and the impact that economic development programs have on school funding was nearly eliminated. This paper describes how those economic development programs and school funding interact.

Memo 1048, pdf File The Durant Decision, On July 31, 1997, the Michigan Supreme Court held that special education programs are a State mandate and that the State had failed to fund such programs at the level required by the State Constitution. A financial settlement has been structured covering both the plaintiffs and other school districts similarly affected by the State's actions. Correcting the underfunding of special education programs is not the only Headlee Amendment issue which should concern the Governor and Legislature. An effort should be undertaken to identify and catalogue existing mandates imposed upon units of local government by the State, and to identify new mandates as they are adopted. In addition, the Legislature should invigorate the local government claims review board which it established in 1979. Finally, the Legislature needs to adopt amendments to its joint rules to establish a process to identify potential mandates, as required by the Headlee Amendment implementation legislation. ( January 98 ) 7 pages [75KB]

CC 998, pdf File Higher Education Financing: How Michigan Compares with Other States ( June 91 ) 4 pages [38,726 bytes]

A comparison of public higher education financing in Michigan with the 14 other most populous states (over 5 million population) and the U.S. average shows that:

  1. Enrollment in Michigan public education institutions is relatively high.
  2. State-local appropriations per student in Michigan are relatively low.
  3. Average tuition per student in Michigan is significantly higher than in most other states and the U.S. average.
  4. Total appropriations and tuition per student in Michigan are above average.
  5. While the combined total appropriations and tuition per student has doubled since 1980, the total is up only 11 percent in constant dollars.

Memo, School Finance Reform ( October 87 ) 3 pages

Educational Vouchers

pdf File Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 00-1 - School Choice
Memo 1055, (October 2000 ) 4 pages

Summary of Report 331

pdf File Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 00-1 - School Choice
Report 331, ( September 2000 ) 20 pages

A detailed CRC analysis of Proposal 00-1 (school choice) on the November statewide ballot. The analysis contains background on public aid to nonpublic schools in Michigan, a description of the proposal, a consideration of its potential financial impact, a review of U. S. Supreme Court decisions regarding public aid to sectarian nonpublic schools, an analysis of the "4-year graduation rate," descriptions of voucher plans in other states, and data regarding nonpublic schools in Michigan.

CC 833, pdf File State Ballot Issues: Proposal C -- Prohibit Use of Public Money for Support of Non-Public Schools ( October 1970 ) 4 pages

School Finance - Federal Aid

CC 987, pdf File Total Financial Support for K-12 Education (1974-1978), Reviews the total revenue position of Michigan school districts during the 15-year period 1973-74 to 1987-88. ( February 1990 ) 6 pages

Public School Academies (Charter Schools)

Nontraditional K-12 Schools in Michigan
Report 364 and Memorandum 1102 ( September 2010 ) 86 pages

Traditional public schools are responsible for the wide dissemination of education and the growth of prosperity in the United States, but they have never been the only means of delivering education. Homeschooling and private schools predate traditional public schools, and more recently, the development of publicly funded, independently managed charter schools has changed the public school landscape. That landscape is being further transformed by the newest form of nontraditional school: the virtual or cyber school that delivers education on line, 24/7, to students anywhere in the state.

Nontraditional schools are the topic of the newest in a series of reports on various aspects of K-12 education being published by Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The emphasis of the report on charter schools is particularly relevant, given the prominent role the federal government has assigned to charters in strategies for turning around failing public schools.

Charter schools are called public school academies (PSAs) in Michigan. PSAs, which compete for students based on the programs they offer, are a tuition-free alternative to traditional public schools. The CRC report reviews the history, structure, and experience of PSAs, with particular emphasis on student achievement. The special categories of Michigan public school academies are defined and described.

Michigan statutes allow a variety of public education entities to authorize PSAs, and impose a number of restrictions, such as requiring certified teachers, standardized testing, and the new high school curriculum, seeking to balance restraints on PSAs with opportunities to innovate and tailor programs to target students. Some charters have contracted with national school management organizations that have developed, and seek to replicate, successful education models that include longer school days and years, and specific governance, personnel, assessment, and community relations approaches. Advocates claim the competition from charter schools will force traditional schools to improve in order to compete.

Critics fear charters will skim the students who are the easiest or cheapest to educate, leaving the neediest (and most expensive to educate) students concentrated in traditional schools. As charters attract students and the state and federal funding that follows those students, they exacerbate the financial stresses on traditional public schools (these financial challenges have been detailed in previous CRC reports). Critics also express concern that PSA board members are appointed, not elected as are members of public school district boards.

In Michigan, PSAs are geographically concentrated in 23 school districts (50 are located in Detroit). Research indicates that while some PSAs produce excellent academic results (the school that ranked highest in MEAP performance in 2009 was a PSA operated by National Heritage Academies), standardized test scores of PSA students lag the statewide averages. However, PSAs are often concentrated in lower performing districts and, in general, PSAs perform better than the host district. This result is consistent with a recent national study that found that charter schools were more effective for low income, lower achieving students. In 2008-09, 71.6 percent of PSAs made adequate yearly progress, compared to 85.6 percent of all Michigan schools.

A controversial 2009 study of charter schools in 16 states found that 17 percent of those charter schools provided superior educational opportunities for their students, nearly half had results that were no different from the local traditional public schools, and 37 percent delivered academic results that were significantly worse than their students would have achieved had they remained in traditional schools. In spite of the inability of charter schools to prove that they produce consistently higher academic achievement, they are very popular with parents, and two-thirds of Michigan PSAs have waiting lists.

Memo 1043, pdf File Public School Academies (Charter Schools) In Michigan, Examined how elementary-secondary education might be improved by charter schools, accountability issues, and the need to collect sufficient data to measure charter school performance. ( July 1996 ) 8 pages [56,029 bytes]

CC 1037, pdf File Questions and Answers Relating to Public School Academies (Charter Schools) in Michigan, Describes what charter schools are, how they are established and governed, and why the Legislature authorized them. ( October 1995 ) 6 pages

Distance Learning

Moving Michigan Farther, Faster: Personalized Learning and the Transformation of Learning in Michigan
Joint Paper with Public Sector Consultants ( March 2013 ) 20 pages

Michigan Virtual University (MVU), a private nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan to serve as a champion for online learning, commissioned Public Sector Consultants (PSC) and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) to answer two questions:

  • What is the future of education in Michigan?
  • What role does/could technology play in that future?

To answer these questions, PSC and CRC interviewed more than 30 state and national education leaders. In addition, the research team conducted an extensive literature scan including policy briefs and academic literature. This is the result of that research. This report contains a description of personalized learning and includes policy recommendations relating to students, teachers, schools, technology, data, and quality and accountability.

School Organization & Finance

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 1999 ) 38 pages

CC 1003, ../pdf FileSchool District Tax Base Sharing in Michigan ( March 1992 ) 8 pages

Memo, Tax Base Sharing for Local School Districts ( June 1991 ) 3 pages

CC 991, pdf File Wayne County Ballot Issues Description of the issues surrounding millage requests for one mill for Wayne County Community College and one mill for general county operations. ( July 1990 ) 4 pages

School Finance Reform in Michigan,
CC 982, ( June 1989 ) 4 pages

Analyzes several factors that have made K-12 school finance reform difficult to achieve. --- Summarizes Report #293 ---

School Finance Reform in Michigan,
Report 293, ( May 1989 ) 17 pages

School finance reform has two major focuses: one relating to providing equal education opportunity, which usually results in an effort to reduce the per pupil expenditure disparity between school districts; and the second to reduce reliance on the property tax as the principal revenue source to support elementary and secondary education. This paper discusses recent efforts to address those focuses.

School Organization & Finance -- Detroit

CC 1032, ../pdf FileDetroit School District $1.5 Billion Bond Proposition, Proposition asking approval to issue unlimited tax general obligation bonds to finance a comprehensive capital improvement program ( October 1994 ) 4 pages

Memo,  FilepdfDetroit School Operating Millage Renewal Proposal Should all 32.25 mills of the extra-voted millage be renewed on September 14, 1993 in light of the tax burden of the city, the condition of the school system, and the pending signing by the governor of Senate Bill 1 (Public Act 145 of 1993) ( August 1993 ) 4 pages

Misc., pdf File Detroit School District Request for Renewal of Three Mills for Operations ( October 1992 ) 2 pages

Memo, Detroit School District Request for Renewal of 3.5 Mills for Operations ( May 1990 ) 2 pages

CC 998, ../pdf FileHigher Education Financing: How Michigan Compares with Other States ( June 1991 ) 4 pages

A comparison of public higher education financing in Michigan with the 14 other most populous states (over 5 million population) and the U.S. average shows that:

  1. Enrollment in Michigan public education institutions is relatively high.
  2. State-local appropriations per student in Michigan are relatively low.
  3. Average tuition per student in Michigan is significantly higher than in most other states and the U.S. average.
  4. Total appropriations and tuition per student in Michigan are above average.
  5. While the combined total appropriations and tuition per student has doubled since 1980, the total is up only 11 percent in constant dollars.

Report 297, ../pdf File History of Relationship Between the Detroit Board of Education and the City of Detroit This paper describes the legal relationship between the Detroit public school system and the city government, and places that relationship in the context of the historical development of the Detroit Public School System. Sources used for this report include various reports of the City of Detroit Public Schools dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, City of Detroit reports, state statutes, and several accounts written by early Detroit educators and historians. ( July 90 ) 16 pages [60KB]

Detroit School Ballot Issues,
CC 983, ( August 1989 ) 6 pages

Proposition 1 -- Proposed $160 million Unlimited Tax General Obligation Bonds; Proposition 2 -- Five Mill Increase in Extra-Voted Property Tax for 5-Year Period

Detroit and Wayne County Intermediate School Districts Ballot Issues,
CC 976, ( October 1988 ) 8 pages

On November 8, 1988, Detroit voters were asked in three separate ballot questions to renew four extra-voted mills of property tax for school operations, to add another six mills for operations, and to authorize the issuance of up to $160 million of unlimited tax, deficit financing bonds. In addition, the Wayne County Intermediate School District was again requesting approval of a one mill increase to fund special education programs.

Misc., Detroit School Ballot Issue To Renew 7.5 Mills For Operation ( March 1984 ) 3 pages

CC 925, Detroit Ballot Issue -- Should Decentralization of the Detroit School District be Continued? ( August 81 ) 2 pages

CC 920, pdf File Ballot Issues: Wayne County: Proposition J -- A Separate and Fixed Tax Limit of 18 mills; Propositions K, L, & M--Extra-Voted Millage; Detroit: Proposal Y -- 3.5 Mills Extra-Voted for the Detroit Schools ( October 1980 ) 5 pages

K-12 School Finance Issues

Adequacy, Equity and Capital Spending in Michigan Schools: The Unfinished Business of Proposal A
Misc. ( May 2005 ) 74 pages

       Full Document
       Summary
       Text Only
       Appendices Only

The report, which was prepared in collaboration with the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, concludes that unmet need for capital construction in local school districts totals approximately $8.7 billion and that it is weighted toward school districts with the lowest property tax wealth. It puts forth a series of alternatives that might be adopted to bring greater equity to the financing of school construction in Michigan.

Memo 1048, pdf File The Durant Decision, On July 31, 1997, the Michigan Supreme Court held that special education programs are a State mandate and that the State had failed to fund such programs at the level required by the State Constitution. A financial settlement has been structured covering both the plaintiffs and other school districts similarly affected by the State's actions. Correcting the underfunding of special education programs is not the only Headlee Amendment issue which should concern the Governor and Legislature. An effort should be undertaken to identify and catalogue existing mandates imposed upon units of local government by the State, and to identify new mandates as they are adopted. In addition, the Legislature should invigorate the local government claims review board which it established in 1979. Finally, the Legislature needs to adopt amendments to its joint rules to establish a process to identify potential mandates, as required by the Headlee Amendment implementation legislation. ( January 98 ) 7 pages [75,136 bytes]

CC 1017, ../pdf FileStatewide Ballot Proposal: Proposal A -- Local Property And School Finance Reform, Analyzed a property tax-school finance proposal which was on the statewide ballot at the June 1993 special election. ( May 1993 ) 6 pages

Misc., Detroit School District Request for Renewal of Three Mills for Operations ( October 1992 ) 2 pages

CC 1012, ../pdf FileState Ballot Proposals A and C -- Proposed Property Tax Amendments, (A: Legislative & C: Initiative) ( September 1992 ) 6 pages

Report 312, ../pdf FileAnalysis of Statewide Ballot Proposal A: Elementary-Secondary School Finance, Would amend the Michigan Constitution to permit school operating taxes to be imposed on a nonumiform basis; limit the growth in assessments on individual parcels of property; increase the sales tax rate to six percent; require that the state guarantee school district operating revenue per pupil; and require a 3/4 vote to increase school operating taxes. Also describes statutory changes that would become effective with passage or alternatives that would become effective with defeat ( February 1994 ) 26 pages

CC 1024, ../pdf FileStatewide Ballot Proposal A: Elementary-Secondary School Finance, --- Summarizes Report #312 --- ( February 1994 ) 6 pages

CC 1022, ../pdf FileA Summary of the Governor's Plan To Reform Public Elementary And Secondary Education In Michigan, Plan of changes proposed by Governor Engler in response to the passage of Public Act 145 of 1993 exempting property from school operating taxes. Changes included Constitutional changes, school program reform, school aid fund allocation changes, and revenue changes ( November 1993 ) 4 pages [34,506 bytes]

CC 1019, ../pdf FileQuestions And Answers Relating To the Exemption of Property From School Operating Taxes, Provides answers to nine basic questions regarding Public Act 145 of 1993, which exempted all property from general ad valorem taxation for school operating purposes. ( September 1993 ) 4 pages [36,680 bytes]

CC 994, Arguments Used by Plaintiffs and Defendants in School Finance Litigation (by John G. Augenblick) ( October 1990 ) 6 pages

CC 955, The Financing of Adult Education in Michigan --- See also Misc. Report --- ( June 1985 ) 6 pages

Misc., The Financing of Adult Education in Michigan ( May 1985 ) 24 pages

School Aid Fund Budget Outlook

CC 1028, ../pdf FileProposal A: Questions Regarding School Property Taxes, Provided answers to nine basic questions regarding Proposal A of 1994, the property tax-school finance proposal. ( June 1994 ) 4 pages

Misc., Categorical Recapture in the State School Aid Act ( December 90 ) 2 pages

Memo, Issues Relative to the Initiative Petition to Reduce Property Assessment Ratios Examined the statutory initiative process; the meaning of the term "session days" and other related issues. ( September 1990 ) 5 pages

Teacher's Unions (Public Employee Unions, Strikes, Bargaining)

Education Reform: Teacher Tenure and Collective Bargaining
Report 380 ( July 2012 ) 50 pages

A flurry of legislative activity in 2011, both in Michigan and in other states, addressed teacher tenure and public sector collective bargaining. This report describes the Michigan reforms and places changes in Michigan statutes in the context of history and of changes occurring in other states.

In Michigan, the state government exercises very extensive control over public education: the state School Aid Fund, rather than local property taxes, is the primary funding source for public schools; the Teacher Tenure Act is a state law; the state manages the Public School Employees Retirement System; the state is empowered to take over school districts that are in financial or academic distress. In 2011, the state legislature increased state control over the operation of local school districts through a series of public acts. Legislated changes lengthened standard probationary periods for teachers, required more rigorous formal evaluations, accelerated the due process timeframe for firing teachers, and restricted allowable subjects of collective bargaining. These changes, which both increased management control and increased management responsibilities, were intended as well to reduce costs. The eventual effect on children's education is as yet unknown.

Public Education Governance in Michigan
Report 359 ( January 2010 ) 62 pages

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan analyzes how public education is structured and governed in Michigan. The report finds education governance to be complex with multiple government officials and agencies from all levels of government involved in education governance and policymaking. The report discusses the roles of the federal government, state government, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and public school academies (i.e., charter schools) in Michigan's education governance system. It used to be that public education in Michigan was the responsibility of local government officials, but now it is considered a high priority by officials at all levels of government mirroring a nation-wide trend toward more centralized education funding and governance. Beyond the formal education governance structure, other groups and actors have influence over education governance and policy, including federal and state courts, unions, state and local education associations, and community interest groups.

An interstate comparison of education governance structures puts education governance in Michigan into context. In general, Michigan has a large number of districts that tend to be smaller than average in terms of population per district, students per district, and geographic size. Michigan also stands out with a more centralized funding structure due to the passage of Proposal A in 1994, which gave the state the authority to determine operating funding levels for local school districts.

Teacher & Other School Employee Salaries

Financing Michigan Retired Teacher Pension and Health Care Benefits,
Report 337 ( September 2004 ) 17 pages

This report analyzes recent changes in investment experience and retiree health care costs for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). In addition, it provides projections of the contribution rates for the pension and health benefit portions of the system. If the actuarial assumptions beyond FY2003 prove accurate, the contribution rate paid by the employers will jump significantly from the 14.87 percent charged by the State for FY2005 to over 20 percent in FY2008. The sharp increase is the combined result of escalating health care costs paid on a pay-as-you-go basis; the very large losses experienced in the stock market in 2001 and 2002; and the postponement of contribution rate increases made possible by the use of reserves, soon to be exhausted.

The effects of escalating pension costs on public school finance will be dramatic. In FY2005, the increase in MPSERS contributions will average approximately $90 per pupil, an amount greater than the entire per pupil increase in school aid support. In the following three fiscal years, the average per pupil increase in MPSERS contributions will exceed $100 each year. In FY2008, the per pupil costs of MPSERS contributions will average about $1,200.

In a year of moderate economic growth, the increase in school aid revenues on a per pupil basis would likely average no more than $300. Combining increased costs for MPSERS contributions and health benefits for working employees leaves little room for increased spending elsewhere in school budgets, even if the economy improves throughout the period.

Note 96-03, pdf File Public School Teacher Pay Relative To Personal Income In Michigan, ( August 1996 ) 2 pages

Teacher Tenure & Supply; Evaluation

Education Reform: Teacher Tenure and Collective Bargaining
Report 380 ( July 2012 ) 50 pages

A flurry of legislative activity in 2011, both in Michigan and in other states, addressed teacher tenure and public sector collective bargaining. This report describes the Michigan reforms and places changes in Michigan statutes in the context of history and of changes occurring in other states.

In Michigan, the state government exercises very extensive control over public education: the state School Aid Fund, rather than local property taxes, is the primary funding source for public schools; the Teacher Tenure Act is a state law; the state manages the Public School Employees Retirement System; the state is empowered to take over school districts that are in financial or academic distress. In 2011, the state legislature increased state control over the operation of local school districts through a series of public acts. Legislated changes lengthened standard probationary periods for teachers, required more rigorous formal evaluations, accelerated the due process timeframe for firing teachers, and restricted allowable subjects of collective bargaining. These changes, which both increased management control and increased management responsibilities, were intended as well to reduce costs. The eventual effect on children's education is as yet unknown.

Education Reform: Teacher Performance Management Systems
Report 377 ( March 2012 ) 34 pages

The second in a miniseries on teachers and teaching, Education Reform: Teacher Performance Management Systems confirms the importance of good teaching and the challenges associated with systems that have been used to, and will in the future, measure the quality of teachers. Historically, teacher evaluations found nearly all teachers to be satisfactory or better, even in districts with very low student performance. Parents and policymakers are increasingly demanding that teachers be evaluated using measures of student achievement gains.

Student centered data systems based on standardized test results and developed in response to the federal No Child Left Behind law form the basis of achievement based evaluation strategies. Classroom observations of teachers by trained observers add valuable information. Teacher evaluations that inform tenure decisions, assignments, wages, professional development, and termination decisions are intended to increase the quality of teaching and learning. However, some of the key components of student test based systems have yet to be validated; use of students' standardized test scores is the metric least favored by teachers. One of the major policy decisions that will be required is whether to accommodate measures of poverty and other factors in setting standards for expected student achievement.

Public Act 102 of 2011 created the Governor's Council on Educator Effectiveness to provide tools that improve teacher effectiveness. By April 30, 2012 the Council is to submit a report that includes a state evaluation tool for teachers. However, more than 40 percent of school districts have already sought waivers from the system's requirements, even though the Council has not yet submitted its recommendations.

Teacher Retirement & Fringe Benefits

Funding for Public Education: The Recent Impact of Increased MPSERS Contributions
State Budget Note 2013-01 ( May 2013 ) 17 pages

Michigan public schools have seen fewer dollars remain available for classroom education in recent years as more of their revenues have been needed to meet unfunded retirement system liabilities.

Public school contributions to the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS) have increased dramatically over the last decade. MPSERS provides for retirement benefits for public school teachers and staff as well as the staffs of community colleges and certain universities and public libraries. The contribution rate for public schools increased from 13.0 percent of payroll in FY2004 to 24.5 percent of payroll in FY2012. The primary cause has been sluggish growth in value of pension fund assets, an issue that came to a head with the severe financial market declines in 2008 and 2009. What followed was a significant increase in unfunded liabilities within the system, which fueled the increase in employer contributions to make up for the shortfall.

These new retirement costs have taken up a growing share of overall school revenues, leaving less for other educational purposes. Measured on a per-pupil basis, districts' contributions to the retirement system increased from 8.7 percent of per-pupil revenues in FY2004 to almost 14.8 percent of those revenues in FY2012 when public school employers contributed over $2.0 billion to cover their MPSERS obligations. The report shows that per-pupil revenues available to all public school districts in FY2012, after netting out the revenues needed to meet MPSERS contributions, declined by 8.8 percent from FY2004 levels after adjusting for inflation. For traditional K-12 school districts, the situation was even worse with inflation-adjusted per-pupil revenues after accounting for MPSERS costs falling by 13.1 percent from FY2004.

The report notes that while funding from the state has increased in recent years, most of the increase has been related to meeting these growing retirement costs and to restoring funds that had been offset by temporary federal stimulus funding.

The report notes that recent legislative changes aimed at reforming MPSERS should help contain and eventually reduce future public school contribution costs. But, in the near term, the crowding out effects of increased MPSERS contributions will remain an issue for public schools.

Education Reform: Pre and Post Employment Teacher Training
Report 374 ( January 2012 ) 42 pages

This paper examines teacher training both before and after certification and employment. Recent research demonstrates the importance of teachers to student success: a teacher one standard deviation above the mean can increase the present value of future earnings of a class of 20 by $400,000 each year. Similarly, replacing the lowest performing 5 to 8 percent of teachers with average teachers would increase overall economic growth significantly.

While there is agreement on the importance of teachers, there is little consensus on the best way to prepare teachers for teaching. The vast majority of Michigan teachers are prepared at one of 33 state recognized teacher training programs. Nationally about one-third of teachers hired since 2005 have come through alternative certification programs. These alternative programs are seen as a way to achieve a number of goals including: increasing the number of minority teachers, recruiting individuals with desirable occupational experience, and expanding the pool of math, science, or other specialty teachers.

Michigan is a net exporter of traditionally trained new teachers. The Michigan Education Association estimates that 5,000 of the 7,500 annual teacher training graduates leave the state each year.

Michigan State and Local Government Retirement Systems
Report 356 ( July 2009 ) 70 pages

Today CRC is releasing its latest report, Michigan State and Local Government Retirement Systems, which describes Michigan’s 138 state and local pension systems in aggregate, explores the financial and managerial state of Michigan's public retirement systems, provides details for several of Michigan’s major state and local public pension systems, compares key metrics to national averages, and explores the possible ramifications of the current economic situation on public defined benefit plans and on state and local governments.

Michigan State and Local Government Retirement Systems reports on the shift to defined contribution plans, which limit the public employer's liability by transferring risk to the employee. It also reports on the balance of investment earnings, employer contributions, and employee contributions in public retirement plans; pension payments and expenses; pension board composition; pension funding strategies; the relationship of pension and other postretirement benefits; adjustments to benefits earned in the future; and potential changes in investment rules and practices.

Proposal 2006-05: Educational Funding Guarantee Law
Report 344 ( September 2006 ) 32 pages

The Citizens Research Council has released its analysis of Proposal 2006-05, the Educational Funding Guarantee Law, a statutory initiative that Michigan voters will be presented with at the November 7, 2006, general election. The proposal would amend the State School Aid Act to guarantee a minimum amount of state funding for K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities in Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07). For all years after fiscal year 2007, the proposal would guarantee funding increases equal to the annual change in inflation.

In addition to the state funding guarantees, Proposal 2006-05 would cap the amount of retirement contributions to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) made by K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities, and require the State of Michigan to make up the difference between the capped employer's contribution and the actual retirement contribution required by the system.

The proposal also contains a declining enrollment provision for K-12 school districts that are experiencing falling student membership. The provision allows the use of a three-year average to determine current-year membership. Finally, the proposed law would require the gap between the basic per pupil foundation allowance and the maximum state-guaranteed per pupil foundation allowance to be reduced from $1,300 to $1,000 by fiscal year 2012.

Proposal 2006-05: Educational Funding Guarantee Law
Memo 1083 ( September 2006 ) 7 pages

Summarizes the analysis of the initiated law to guarantee minimum state funding of education in CRC Report #344

Financing Michigan Retired Teacher Pension and Health Care Benefits,
Report 337 ( September 2004 ) 17 pages

This report analyzes recent changes in investment experience and retiree health care costs for the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS). In addition, it provides projections of the contribution rates for the pension and health benefit portions of the system. If the actuarial assumptions beyond FY2003 prove accurate, the contribution rate paid by the employers will jump significantly from the 14.87 percent charged by the State for FY2005 to over 20 percent in FY2008. The sharp increase is the combined result of escalating health care costs paid on a pay-as-you-go basis; the very large losses experienced in the stock market in 2001 and 2002; and the postponement of contribution rate increases made possible by the use of reserves, soon to be exhausted.

The effects of escalating pension costs on public school finance will be dramatic. In FY2005, the increase in MPSERS contributions average approximately $90 per pupil, an amount greater than the entire per pupil increase in school aid support. In the following three fiscal years, the average per pupil increase in MPSERS contributions will exceed $100 each year. In FY2008, the per pupil costs of MPSERS contributions will average about $1,200.

In a year of moderate economic growth, the increase in school aid revenues on a per pupil basis would likely average no more than $300. Combining increased costs for MPSERS contributions and health benefits for working employees leaves little room for increased spending elsewhere in school budgets, even if the economy improves throughout the period.

School Enrollment; Attendance (including student behavior & conduct codes)

State Support of Nonpublic School Students
Memo 1126 ( January 2014 ) 11 pages

Michigan’s recent winter storms shed light on some of the unique relationships that can exist between a local public K-12 school district and the private and religious (nonpublic) schools located with the district’s boundaries. The storms and frigid temperatures caused districts to cancel classes for a number of days, and many nonpublic schools were forced to follow suit. For some nonpublic schools, the decision to close was related to the fact that the public school district, which canceled classes, delivers educational services to, and provides transportation for, the nonpublic schools’ students.

Michigan law forbids direct public support of nonpublic schools; however, it allows state support of nonpublic school students enrolled in public schools. Students attending nonpublic elementary and secondary schools have long been able to enroll part time in public schools (both traditional public and charter schools) and receive instruction in non-core curriculum offerings. Student instruction in elective courses such as physical education, art, technology, and foreign languages is financed by the state dollars that public school districts receive through the per-pupil foundation grant that has been in place since adoption of Proposal A in 1994. The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that such arrangements do not violate the state constitutional prohibition against "parochiaid" -– direct state support of nonpublic schools. CRC’s new report, State Support of Nonpublic School Students, examines the history of Michigan’s policy behind "shared time" instruction, how it differs from "parochiaid," and participation in the program.

"It is easy, upon hearing about ’shared time’ instruction, to conflate the issue with ’parochiaid,’" said Craig Thiel of CRC. "The two are different in form and very different from a legal perspective."

CRC’s new report documents the observed growth in participation and possible reasons for such growth, including the financial incentives created by the per-pupil foundation grant. The report highlights how "shared time" enrollment affects state School Aid Fund finances, as well as the finances of individual districts. Some districts have increased their participation as a way to supplement traditional revenue streams and help them manage through difficult financial times. The report also discusses public policy issues raised by the mechanics of "shared time," particularly the per-pupil funding that accompanies nonpublic school student enrollment in public schools.

"Participation in ’shared time’ is at an all-time high with the state paying an estimated $57 million in fiscal year 2013 to educate nonpublic school students," said Craig Thiel. "Enrollment in 'shared time' instruction continues to grow, even though statewide public school enrollment has been declining for years. This is a trend worth taking notice of."

School Year; Year Round; Terms

School Transportation (including bussing, desegregation)

School Health, Special Education

School - Methods, procedures, Improvement & Equal Education (including class size) Opportunity

Teacher Training

Education Reform: Teacher Performance Management Systems
Report 377 ( March 2012 ) 34 pages

The second in a miniseries on teachers and teaching, Education Reform: Teacher Performance Management Systems confirms the importance of good teaching and the challenges associated with systems that have been used to, and will in the future, measure the quality of teachers. Historically, teacher evaluations found nearly all teachers to be satisfactory or better, even in districts with very low student performance. Parents and policymakers are increasingly demanding that teachers be evaluated using measures of student achievement gains.

Student centered data systems based on standardized test results and developed in response to the federal No Child Left Behind law form the basis of achievement based evaluation strategies. Classroom observations of teachers by trained observers add valuable information. Teacher evaluations that inform tenure decisions, assignments, wages, professional development, and termination decisions are intended to increase the quality of teaching and learning. However, some of the key components of student test based systems have yet to be validated; use of students' standardized test scores is the metric least favored by teachers. One of the major policy decisions that will be required is whether to accommodate measures of poverty and other factors in setting standards for expected student achievement.

Public Act 102 of 2011 created the Governor's Council on Educator Effectiveness to provide tools that improve teacher effectiveness. By April 30, 2012 the Council is to submit a report that includes a state evaluation tool for teachers. However, more than 40 percent of school districts have already sought waivers from the system's requirements, even though the Council has not yet submitted its recommendations.

Education Reform: Pre and Post Employment Teacher Training
Report 374 ( January 2012 ) 42 pages

This paper examines teacher training both before and after certification and employment. Recent research demonstrates the importance of teachers to student success: a teacher one standard deviation above the mean can increase the present value of future earnings of a class of 20 by $400,000 each year. Similarly, replacing the lowest performing 5 to 8 percent of teachers with average teachers would increase overall economic growth significantly.

While there is agreement on the importance of teachers, there is little consensus on the best way to prepare teachers for teaching. The vast majority of Michigan teachers are prepared at one of 33 state recognized teacher training programs. Nationally about one-third of teachers hired since 2005 have come through alternative certification programs. These alternative programs are seen as a way to achieve a number of goals including: increasing the number of minority teachers, recruiting individuals with desirable occupational experience, and expanding the pool of math, science, or other specialty teachers.

Michigan is a net exporter of traditionally trained new teachers. The Michigan Education Association estimates that 5,000 of the 7,500 annual teacher training graduates leave the state each year. "The difference between the number of teachers we train each year and the number we can employ is dramatic," said CRC Senior Research Associate Bettie Buss. "While this may mean that Michigan has the opportunity to cherry pick the best teaching graduates, it also suggests that Michigan is not allocating scarce higher education resources in the most efficient manner."

School Evaluation; Student Testing & Assessment

pdf Document Evaluating the Educational Outcomes of Your Local Schools
Report 282, ( July 1986 ) 33 pages

This manual is organized into 9 chapters, each dealing with a specific aspect of evaluating education by looking at the outcomes. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 deal with who is responsible for student learning and how to pursue an outcomes approach without get-ting sidetracked. Chapter 5 describes the democratic processes through which citizens hold their schools accountable for educational progress. Chapter 6 suggests that parents and other citizens should insist that their local schools define local educational objectives and provide the public with information about progress toward achieving those objectives. Chapters 7 and 8 provide information about what kinds of measures of student performance are available and how to make use of student testing. The final chapter sets forth some characteristics that effective schools are known to possess. Each chapter is followed by exercises to accustom users to the educational outcomes approach.

School Buildings

Detroit Ballot Issues -- Proposal S: Detroit Public Schools Bond Proposal
Memorandum 1095 ( October 2009 ) 8 pages

Proposal S would allow Detroit Public Schools to borrow $500.5 million for the construction and renovation of school facilities. If the proposal passes, DPS plans to use the bond proceeds to build eight new schools and modernize or renovate 10 schools. The analysis of Proposal S explains how the proposed bond issuance is structured to take advantage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009. It looks at the finances of the school district, the amount of existing debt, and the unsettled governance issues that loom in the background.

K-12 School Finance Issues

Adequacy, Equity and Capital Spending in Michigan Schools: The Unfinished Business of Proposal A
Misc. ( May 2005 ) 74 pages

       Full Document
       Summary
       Text Only
       Appendices Only

The report, which was prepared in collaboration with the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, concludes that unmet need for capital construction in local school districts totals approximately $8.7 billion and that it is weighted toward school districts with the lowest property tax wealth. It puts forth a series of alternatives that might be adopted to bring greater equity to the financing of school construction in Michigan.

Parochiad

State Support of Nonpublic School Students
Memo 1126 ( January 2014 ) 11 pages

Michigan’s recent winter storms shed light on some of the unique relationships that can exist between a local public K-12 school district and the private and religious (nonpublic) schools located with the district’s boundaries. The storms and frigid temperatures caused districts to cancel classes for a number of days, and many nonpublic schools were forced to follow suit. For some nonpublic schools, the decision to close was related to the fact that the public school district, which canceled classes, delivers educational services to, and provides transportation for, the nonpublic schools’ students.

Michigan law forbids direct public support of nonpublic schools; however, it allows state support of nonpublic school students enrolled in public schools. Students attending nonpublic elementary and secondary schools have long been able to enroll part time in public schools (both traditional public and charter schools) and receive instruction in non-core curriculum offerings. Student instruction in elective courses such as physical education, art, technology, and foreign languages is financed by the state dollars that public school districts receive through the per-pupil foundation grant that has been in place since adoption of Proposal A in 1994. The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that such arrangements do not violate the state constitutional prohibition against "parochiaid" -– direct state support of nonpublic schools. CRC’s new report, State Support of Nonpublic School Students, examines the history of Michigan’s policy behind "shared time" instruction, how it differs from "parochiaid," and participation in the program.

"It is easy, upon hearing about 'shared time' instruction, to conflate the issue with 'parochiaid,'" said Craig Thiel of CRC. "The two are different in form and very different from a legal perspective."

CRC’s new report documents the observed growth in participation and possible reasons for such growth, including the financial incentives created by the per-pupil foundation grant. The report highlights how "shared time" enrollment affects state School Aid Fund finances, as well as the finances of individual districts. Some districts have increased their participation as a way to supplement traditional revenue streams and help them manage through difficult financial times. The report also discusses public policy issues raised by the mechanics of "shared time," particularly the per-pupil funding that accompanies nonpublic school student enrollment in public schools.

"Participation in ’shared time’ is at an all-time high with the state paying an estimated $57 million in fiscal year 2013 to educate nonpublic school students," said Craig Thiel. "Enrollment in ’shared time’ instruction continues to grow, even though statewide public school enrollment has been declining for years. This is a trend worth taking notice of."

Colleges & University Organization; Program

State-Wide Spring Election Ballot Issues
CC 697, ( March 1959 ) 2 pages

Constitutional Amendments
I. Continuity Of State & Local Government In Emergencies;
II. State Board Of Agriculture To Be Board Of Trustees;
III. Board Of Governors Of Wayne State University

Colleges & University Finance & Management

Proposal 2006-05: Educational Funding Guarantee Law
Report 344 ( September 2006 ) 32 pages

The Citizens Research Council has released its analysis of Proposal 2006-05, the Educational Funding Guarantee Law, a statutory initiative that Michigan voters will be presented with at the November 7, 2006, general election. The proposal would amend the State School Aid Act to guarantee a minimum amount of state funding for K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities in Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07). For all years after fiscal year 2007, the proposal would guarantee funding increases equal to the annual change in inflation.

In addition to the state funding guarantees, Proposal 2006-05 would cap the amount of retirement contributions to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) made by K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities, and require the State of Michigan to make up the difference between the capped employer's contribution and the actual retirement contribution required by the system.

The proposal also contains a declining enrollment provision for K-12 school districts that are experiencing falling student membership. The provision allows the use of a three-year average to determine current-year membership. Finally, the proposed law would require the gap between the basic per pupil foundation allowance and the maximum state-guaranteed per pupil foundation allowance to be reduced from $1,300 to $1,000 by fiscal year 2012.

Proposal 2006-05: Educational Funding Guarantee Law
Memo 1083 ( September 2006 ) 7 pages

Summarizes the analysis of the initiated law to guarantee minimum state funding of education in CRC Report #344

CC 998, pdf File Higher Education Financing: How Michigan Compares with Other States ( June 1991 ) 4 pages

A comparison of public higher education financing in Michigan with the 14 other most populous states (over 5 million population) and the U.S. average shows that:

  1. Enrollment in Michigan public education institutions is relatively high.
  2. State-local appropriations per student in Michigan are relatively low.
  3. Average tuition per student in Michigan is significantly higher than in most other states and the U.S. average.
  4. Total appropriations and tuition per student in Michigan are above average.
  5. While the combined total appropriations and tuition per student has doubled since 1980, the total is up only 11 percent in constant dollars.

State-Wide Spring Election Ballot Issues
CC 697, ( March 1959 ) 2 pages

Constitutional Amendments
I. Continuity Of State & Local Government In Emergencies;
II. State Board Of Agriculture To Be Board Of Trustees;
III. Board Of Governors Of Wayne State University

Colleges & University Finance - Federal Aid

Colleges & University Faculty

Colleges & University Enrollment, Student Regulations & Activities

Proposal 2006-02: Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
Report 343 ( September 2006 ) 47 pages

The Citizens Research Council has released its analysis of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative proposal. At the November 7, 2006, general election Michigan voters will be presented with a proposal to add Section 26 to Article I of the 1963 Michigan Constitution "to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes."

Proposal 2006-02: Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
Memo 1082 ( September 2006 ) 6 pages

Summarizes the analysis of the proposed constitutional amendment regarding the use of affirmative action preferences in CRC Report #343.

Colleges & University - School Terms

Colleges & University - Buildings & Planning

Junior & Community Colleges

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 1999 ) 38 pages

Misc., pdf File Wayne County Community College and Macomb Community College Districts Ballot Issues ( October 1992 ) 1 page [4 KB]

CC 1007, pdf File Wayne County and Macomb County Community College Districts Ballot Issues -- August 4, 1992 ( July 1992 ) 4 pages [35,111 bytes]

CC 991, pdf File Wayne County Ballot Issues Description of the issues surrounding millage requests for one mill for Wayne County Community College and one mill for general county operations. ( July 90 ) 4 pages

Vocational Education

Community Education

Community Education in Michigan,
Misc. ( October 2003 ) 24 pages

Proposed cuts to the adult education program and the 21st Century Program will lead to a decrease in community education opportunities in Michigan. Adult education programs may be able to offset budget cuts by charging tuition and after school programs may appeal to community or business partner to secure funding in the absence of federal support. A five-year pause in state funding for adult education in 1959 brought about systemic changes, some of which contributed to instances of abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. While Fiscal Year 2004 reductions will limit the scope of community education programs offered in the state, future prospects for restoring adult education programs, and perhaps also for establishing dedicated state funds for after school programs, will be shaped by how adequately accountability and responsiveness can be combined to meet the needs of learners in Michigan.

Adult Education

CC 955, The Financing of Adult Education in Michigan --- See also Misc. Report --- ( June 1985 ) 6 pages

pdf File The Financing of Adult Education in Michigan
Misc., ( May 1985 ) 24 pages

Substantial numbers of adults in Michigan do not possess a high school diploma. The 1980 Census indicated that about 1.68 million Michigan residents age 25 and over lacked 12 complete years of schooling, or about 32 percent of the population age 25 and over. These are significant figures and suggest that adult education levels in the state should be a matter of concern, particularly in view of the close connection between certain skills acquired in the classroom and occupational potential -- and, on the other hand, between lack of education and poverty.

 

 

 

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Last Updated November 17, 2014