Duly Noted

Michigan businesses, education experts launch effort to reexamine K-12 school funding

On Jan. 10, top business and education experts launched a comprehensive effort to reexamine how Michigan’s schools are funded. The School Finance Research Collab-orative is bringing together top industry experts to reexamine the state’s approach to funding K-12 schools to ensure all students are fully prepared for jobs and success, from the inner cities to the suburbs, to rural areas and the U.P.

“We must reexamine our approach so all students can achieve and succeed, regardless of race, household income, learning challenges or geography,” said Teresa Weatherall Neal, Grand Rapids Public Schools superintendent. “We need to provide access to a quality education to prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow for West Michigan’s economic success story to continue.”

Over the next year, the Collaborative will oversee a new, comprehensive school adequacy study that will create a new framework for funding Michigan’s schools to prepare all students for success in the classroom and beyond.

“As a member of West Michigan’s education and business community, I am honored and excited to be part of the School Finance Research Collaborative,” said Elizabeth Welch, Vice President of the East Grand Rapids Public School Board, and a Grand Rapids-based attorney. “We are a diverse and bipartisan group of business leaders and education experts, from West Michigan to the western U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.”

“We need to collect the best, most complete and most accurate information on what it truly costs to educate our students,” said Wendy Falb, President of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education. “Leaders in West Michigan are proud to be a part of this important effort.”

The Collaborative is currently funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The report will build on the findings of the state-funded Michigan Education Finance Study, which was released in June 2016. The state-funded study was not a true “adequacy study.”

The Collaborative will also employ proven methodologies to generate a more accurate roadmap for school financing in Michigan.

Once accurate and comprehensive data are available, the Collaborative will work to communicate this critical information to Michigan policymakers, stakeholders and the public at large.