could be on their way to bringing in an additional $800,000 this fiscal year, after qualifying for a best practices incentive as part of the state School Aid Act.
At their Tuesday night meeting, Birmingham school board members voted to file an application with the State Aid and School Finance Office of the Michigan Department of Education, seeking an additional $100 per pupil — or approximately $800,000 — in state funding.
These funds would help replenish the district's coffers, which have been strained since the passing of Gov. Rick Snyder's 2012 state budget in February, which .
The district qualifies for the funds because during the past few months, it has met four of five best practices criteria laid out by the state as part of the School Aid Act. The district has complied with the following criteria:
- District employees contribute at least 10 percent of their health care costs.
- The school board is the designated policyholder for district employees' medical benefit plans.
- The district has obtained a competitive bid on non-instructional services.
- The district provides a link on its website to the Michigan School Data Portal.
According to M. Jon Dean, Birmingham's assistant superintendent for human resources, the district has gone far and beyond many of these basic requirements. For instance, the district has been contracting out non-instructional services such as busing, food services, custodial and maintenance work for years.
However, Dean made it clear that should the district receive the funds, this is not new or found money — it is merely recouping dollars the state took away.
"This is only a small amount of what we lost," he said.
The school board paved the way for the decision just minutes before by voting to designate themselves as policyholder for district employees' group health care insurance benefits.
Dean said all the district's bargaining units, including teachers and other staff, had been informed of the decision. When asked, Birmingham Educational Association president Scott Warrow noted there had been no formal complaints among teachers.
School board President Susan Hill said the board couldn't turn down any available funds.
"This board does not want to leave any dollars on the table," she said.