State Budget and Birmingham: School District Facing $470-per-Pupil Loss
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the 2011-12 state budget Tuesday. Here's how it will affect Birmingham schools.
With the signing of the 2011-12 state budget Tuesday, Gov. Rick Snyder made history, signing the budget into law earlier than any other administration had done in three decades. The $47.4 billion budget also resolves a $1.5 billion shortfall, cuts funds to public education and local government while also funding the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax.
But what does this mean for Birmingham and its residents? Birmingham Patch is examining the impact Snyder's budget will have on the city, public services and the Birmingham Public Schools district.
District to see $470 less per student
Already facing a $6.6 million deficit in its 2011-12 budget, also approved Tuesday, Birmingham Schools isn't happy about the state's final budget.
"We're disappointed," said schools spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson. "Until there is a viable funding mechanism for Michigan schools, we will continue to see a decline in per-pupil funding."
Wilkinson was referring to a $470 loss in per-pupil funding, finalized in the state budget. The loss stems from a reduction in the state's foundation allowance for K-12 education, reduced by Snyder from $7,316 to $6,850. The 6 percent cut is expected to save the state about $450 million.
Wilkinson said the district's goal is to reduce that per-pupil loss to $270 by applying for various state incentives.
Besides the per-pupil cut, which Wilkinson said the district had been preparing for while putting together its budget, she said there are still several variables that potentially could affect the district's final 2011-12 budget.
One of those variables includes current contract negotiations with the district's various bargaining units, including the Birmingham Education Association. Wilkinson said terms of those contracts could shift how much money the district has to work with in the coming year.
The Birmingham Board of Education will meet Wednesday morning to discuss those terms, and Wilkinson said a decision is likely to be made sooner rather than later. A new stipulation in Michigan collective bargaining law requires that unions sign their contracts before July 1 or risk teachers losing their step-and-level pay increases.
Other highlights from the district's 2011-12 budget include:
- $100.7 million in projected net revenue, close to the same amount received in 2010-11.
- $107.3 million in projected expenditures, a 4.9 percent increase from 2010-11.
- Expenditures include $63.3 million for instructional costs, $44 million for support services and $2 million for community education.
- A 5.57 percent decrease in taxable value in the district’s seven taxing units, including a 4.87 percent decrease in Birmingham alone.
Things could be worse. Classroom sizes aren't expected to grow in the district, and no teachers were laid off due to budget constraints. To preserve programming, the school board members voted Tuesday to break with board policy and dip into the district's fund equity to make up for the missing funds.
Still, district revenues are expected to remain static during the next four years, while expenditures are expected to increase by 3 percent, according to Debbie Piesz, Birmingham's assistant superintendent for business services.
The district has several cuts in mind, but the deficit is expected to grow to $17 million by 2014-15, Piesz said.
State House Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham) said that while he respects the Birmingham Board of Education immensely, everyone is going to have to do more with less.
"We have got to start getting some of these costs down," he said after Snyder presented his original budget in February. "And that's an unfortunate fact for getting the state turned around."
While schools are important, what's even more important is getting the state's economy turned around so that everyone — not just those in K-12 education — benefits, he said. Moss said his daughters attended Birmingham schools but now live in North Carolina and New York because they couldn't find jobs in Michigan.
"We've been going in the negative direction for 10 years," Moss said, "but we've got to get some of the costs down so we can get the economy going again."