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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2013/06/guest-commentary-more-and-more-schools-falling-into-budget-squeeze/

Guest commentary/Talent & education

More and more schools falling into budget squeeze

(courtesy photo/used under Creative Commons license)

(courtesy photo/used under Creative Commons license)

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan delivered troubling news to a legislative panel last week:

–One in 10 traditional K-12 school districts in Michigan (55 of 549) are operating in a budget deficit.

–The number of deficit districts has doubled since 2008, when only 27 were in the hole.

Two charts from different sources paint an interesting picture of the increasing fiscal stress for schools in recent years and suggest that districts and policy-makers must keep a close eye on districts’ financial health. 

Eric Lupher is director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michgan, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group.

Eric Lupher is director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michgan, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group.

The first chart is from the recent Citizens Research Council of Michigan’s report: “Funding for Public Education: The Recent Impact of Increased MPSERS Contributions”. The chart displays total per-pupil funding provided to school districts since 2004 and separates funding into two categories: (a) the amount needed to meet obligations to the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS); and (b) the “post-MPSERS” amount remaining to cover all other needs.

While overall funding to school districts has increased marginally since 2004, the amount needed to meet retirement costs has eaten up a greater portion of these revenues. MPSERS contributions equated to 8.7 percent of per-pupil revenues in 2004, but grew to 14.8 percent by 2012.

Focusing on the per-pupil revenue left over after meeting these increasing retirement obligations, the chart shows that, when adjusting for inflation, remaining revenue has declined by 8.8 percent for all public education entities (traditional and charter schools) since 2004. The CRC report looks at the same figures for only traditional K-12 school districts, and the situation is even worse with post-MPSERS revenue per pupil falling by 13.1 percent over this same time period after adjusting for inflation.

In short, the rapid growth in public school employer costs related to MPSERS has limited revenues available for other educational purposes.

The challenges presented by this crowding-out effect were then compounded by the significant per-pupil funding reductions implemented by the Legislature in 2012 to address structural deficits in the state budget and by declining enrollments, with the number of pupils in the public school system statewide declining from 1.71 million in 2004 to 1.55 million in 2012, a 10.5 percent drop.

Bob Schneider is director of state affairs for CRC. Prior to joining CRC, he was associate director for the nonpartisan Michigan House Fiscal Agency.

Bob Schneider is director of state affairs for CRC. Prior to joining CRC, he was associate director for the nonpartisan Michigan House Fiscal Agency.

State School Aid Fund dollars are distributed on a per pupil basis, so some districts have faced the “double whammy” of fewer per pupil dollars available and fewer pupils drawing those funds. The combined impacts of all these factors have left public schools more financially constrained than they were a decade ago.

The second chart, Munetrix’s fiscal “Stress Meter,” gives an overview of fiscal indicator scores across the state and over time. Just as Munetrix has adapted and modified the state’s fiscal indicator scores for municipal governments (highlighted by Bridge Magazine a few weeks ago), Munetrix has worked with school officials to calculate fiscal indicator scores for school districts. (See Munetrix methodology here.)

Districts receive a “1” if calculated ratios exceed certain thresholds. The lower the number, the more fiscally sound a school district is determined to be. Munetrix has divided the school districts into three categories of scores grouped by color — shades of green, blue and red.

It is clear on this chart that the number of school districts considered in fiscal distress (those in shades of red) and those with mild levels of fiscal stress (shades of blue) are increasing on a yearly basis, and that the number of school districts with minimal levels of fiscal stress (shades of green) are decreasing. This fiscal scoring system identifies 62 school districts (11 percent) that are in varying levels of fiscal distress and another 106 school districts (19 percent) that show signs of distress and should at least be on the radar of state officials because they could worsen without remedial actions at the local or state level.

CRC chart

CRC chart

Analysis of the data on the Munetrix website show that school districts in all regions of the state are suffering increased levels of fiscal stress. If your school district is not in the blue or red shade of Munetrix’s color coding scheme, chances are pretty good that a district close to you is. Clearly part of the problem lies in the changes in resources made available to school districts (as described above).

Munetrix chart. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Munetrix chart. CLICK TO ENLARGE

More and more school districts are facing fiscal stress.  It is not a problem found in only urban or rural school districts. Nor is it unique to those districts for whom urban abandonment and mismanagement has led them down the path to deficits. The problem appears to cross all these boundaries.  Perhaps most alarming, the data suggests fiscal stress is spreading into new districts where it was not evident before. Of the 62 districts scored as having high fiscal stress (7 or higher) in 2012, 30 of those same districts scored as having minimal stress (3 or below) just four years prior.

Policy prescriptions for dealing with fiscally-stressed districts vary depending upon which prescriber you ask. Some point to the negative impact of recent funding reductions and the need for more state funding to prop up district resources.  Others ask why Michigan continues to have 549 locally-controlled traditional school districts in the wake of declines in enrollment. Regardless, however, of your prescription for the problem, there is one thing on which virtually everyone agree. In order to combat fiscal stress, you need to recognize that it’s arrived.

Searchable database of fiscal stress scores
School District Enrollment 2009 2010 2011 2012
Adams Township School District 449 4 4 3 5
Addison Community Schools 880 3 4 4 5
Adrian, School District of the City of 3122 2 2 3 5
Airport Community Schools 2656 4 5 4 5
Akron-Fairgrove Schools 285 2 3 3 4
Alanson Public Schools 321 8 6 3 1
Alba Public Schools 180 2 4 5 7
Albion Public Schools 734 5 5 6 7
Alcona Community Schools 800 3 3 3 4
Algonac Community School District 1894 4 4 3 4
Allegan Public Schools 2667 2 1 0 4
Allen Park Public Schools 3785 1 1 1 3
Allendale Public Schools 2495 1 3 3 4
Alma Public Schools 2221 2 2 0 2
Almont Community Schools 1536 2 2 5 5
Alpena Public Schools 3961 4 4 5 7
Anchor Bay School District 6274 1 4 5 5
Ann Arbor Public Schools 16696 1 3 2 4
Arenac Eastern School District 259 4 5 4 6
Armada Area Schools 2036 3 3 2 3
Arvon Township School District 8 1 2 2 2
Ashley Community Schools 288 4 5 6 9
Athens Area Schools 583 8 7 6 7
Atherton Community Schools 810 3 1 2 4
Atlanta Community Schools 268 4 4 4 7
Au Gres-Sims School District 388 7 6 3 3
Autrain-Onota Public Schools 43 2 2 2 3
Avondale School District 3790 5 5 4 5
Bad Axe Public Schools 1125 1 1 2 4
Baldwin Community Schools 564 5 3 2 2
Bangor Public Schools (Van Buren) 1254 7 6 5 6
Bangor Township S/D #8 22 3 5 3 3
Bangor Township Schools 2523 0 1 1 2
Baraga Area Schools 509 1 1 2 4
Bark River-Harris School District 737 0 0 0 1
Bath Community Schools 1031 4 3 2 1
Battle Creek Public Schools 5348 4 5 5 6
Bay City School District 8304 3 4 5 5
Beal City Public Schools 706 0 1 1 4
Bear Lake Schools 358 1 1 2 3
Beaver Island Community School 68 2 1 1 2
Beaverton Rural Schools 1323 7 4 2 4
Bedford Public Schools 4707 1 3 3 7
Beecher Community School District 1363 3 3 3 7
Belding Area School District 2015 3 4 4 5
Bellaire Public Schools 443 4 5 7 9
Bellevue Community Schools 595 7 7 7 7
Bendle Public Schools 2147 1 1 1 2
Bentley Community School District 807 3 4 4 3
Benton Harbor Area Schools 2826 9 8 7 7
Benzie County Central Schools 1635 3 3 4 3
Berkley School District 4765 2 2 2 3
Berlin Township S/D #3 25 2 3 2 3
Berrien Springs Public Schools 2570 0 0 0 1
Bessemer Area School District 449 5 5 7 5
Big Bay De Noc School District 243 3 5 4 4
Big Jackson School District 36 3 3 4 3
Big Rapids Public Schools 1935 4 3 2 2
Birch Run Area Schools 1801 0 0 0 1
Birmingham City School District 8365 0 0 0 2
Blissfield Community Schools 1261 2 2 2 1
Bloomfield Hills Schools 5517 1 2 1 2
Bloomingdale Public School District 1186 2 3 2 5
Bois Blanc Pines School District 2 1 1 2 2
Boyne City Public Schools 1355 3 3 3 4
Boyne Falls Public School District 206 3 3 4 4
Brandon Public Schools 3285 1 2 3 5
Brandywine Community Schools 1389 0 0 0 2
Breckenridge Community Schools 831 4 4 2 5
Breitung Township School District 1669 4 5 4 3
Bridgeport-Spaulding Community School District 1464 5 7 9 9
Bridgman Public Schools 983 3 2 1 1
Brighton Area Schools 6378 6 7 8 8
Brimley Area Schools 497 1 2 2 2
Britton Deerfield Schools 761 2 2 0 1
Bronson Community School District 1121 1 3 2 5
Brown City Community Schools 926 1 2 1 4
Buchanan Community Schools 1609 0 1 1 3
Buckley Community Schools 441 0 0 0 2
Buena Vista School District 435 7 6 7 8
Bullock Creek School District 1933 4 4 2 1
Burr Oak Community School District 287 5 3 1 3
Burt Township School District 36 3 4 4 5
Byron Area Schools 1115 0 1 3 7
Byron Center Public Schools 3597 4 2 1 1
Cadillac Area Public Schools 3031 1 1 1 2
Caledonia Community Schools 4520 0 0 0 1
Calumet Public Schools 1491 2 4 3 3
Camden-Frontier School 572 6 6 4 5
Capac Community Schools 1307 1 3 4 7
Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools 4356 1 3 5 7
Carney-Nadeau Public Schools 246 1 1 3 4
Caro Community Schools 1859 2 1 1 1
Carrollton Public Schools 1991 0 0 0 1
Carson City-Crystal Area Schools 956 5 4 4 4
Carsonville-Port Sanilac School District 554 1 2 4 6
Caseville Public Schools 259 1 2 2 2
Cass City Public Schools 1084 2 5 4 7
Cassopolis Public Schools 1067 1 1 2 4
Cedar Springs Public Schools 3421 1 0 0 1
Center Line Public Schools 2723 1 3 2 2
Central Lake Public Schools 342 3 2 2 5
Central Montcalm Public Schools 1697 0 2 4 6
Centreville Public Schools 880 0 1 2 3
Charlevoix Public Schools 1049 1 5 7 7
Charlotte Public Schools 2680 3 3 4 4
Chassell Township School District 268 4 3 1 3
Cheboygan Area Schools 1908 3 1 0 4
Chelsea School District 2488 2 3 2 4
Chesaning Union Schools 1616 3 2 5 7
Chippewa Hills School District 2207 4 4 4 3
Chippewa Valley Schools 16469 0 2 1 2
Church School District 23 2 1 1 4
Clare Public Schools 1531 1 0 0 2
Clarenceville School District 1881 3 2 2 1
Clarkston Community School District 8043 2 2 2 4
Clawson Public Schools 1756 1 1 1 2
Climax-Scotts Community Schools 533 3 2 3 3
Clinton Community Schools 1123 1 1 2 2
Clintondale Community Schools 3358 6 5 4 4
Clio Area School District 3494 0 1 1 3
Coldwater Community Schools 2865 0 1 1 3
Coleman Community Schools 732 2 2 3 4
Colfax Township S/D #1F 24 2 2 3 1
Coloma Community Schools 1748 4 3 2 2
Colon Community School District 635 2 2 3 5
Columbia School District 1462 2 3 3 6
Comstock Park Public Schools 2265 4 3 1 2
Comstock Public Schools 2006 4 2 1 2
Concord Community Schools 799 1 3 5 7
Constantine Public School District 1428 2 1 1 1
Coopersville Area Public School District 2500 0 0 0 2
Corunna Public Schools 2140 1 0 0 3
Covert Public Schools 489 8 7 7 6
Crawford Ausable Schools 1641 2 1 1 3
Crestwood School District 3659 0 0 0 2
Croswell-Lexington Community Schools 2256 1 3 3 5
Dansville Schools 868 3 2 0 1
Davison Community Schools 5600 0 0 0 2
Dearborn City School District 19175 3 3 3 2
Dearborn Heights School District #7 2850 4 5 4 6
Decatur Public Schools 911 3 5 6 6
Deckerville Community School District 616 5 5 4 3
Deerfield Public Schools 269 5 5 5
Delton Kellogg Schools 1461 7 5 2 3
Detour Area Schools 144 2 3 4 4
Detroit City School District 51362 9 9 8 8
Dewitt Public Schools 3023 2 4 2 4
Dexter Community School District 3549 0 0 0 1
Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools 309 0 2 1 2
Dowagiac Union School District 2292 1 2 2 3
Dryden Community Schools 650 1 2 4 4
Dundee Community Schools 1618 1 1 0 1
Durand Area Schools 1615 5 5 5 6
East China School District 4554 1 2 2 4
East Detroit Public Schools 3838 9 9 8 8
East Grand Rapids Public Schools 3003 0 1 1 2
East Jackson Community Schools 1235 6 5 5 7
East Jordan Public Schools 1028 4 4 5 5
East Lansing School District 3538 3 3 1 3
Easton Township S/D #6 34 5 5 3 5
Eaton Rapids Public Schools 2549 1 1 2 6
Eau Claire Public Schools 857 6 3 2 1
Ecorse Public Schools 1044 5 6 6 7
Edwardsburg Public Schools 2700 0 1 1 3
Elk Rapids Schools 1425 1 1 2 4
Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Schools 918 2 3 3 4
Ellsworth Community School 218 3 3 2 1
Elm River Township School District 8 2 2 2 4
Engadine Consolidated Schools 277 1 2 2 4
Escanaba Area Public Schools 2522 3 3 5 4
Essexville-Hampton Public Schools 1792 2 3 2 6
Evart Public Schools 942 1 3 4 6
Ewen-Trout Creek Consolidated School District 245 7 7 6 5
Excelsior Township S/D #1 50 1 1 1 2
Fairview Area School District 321 4 2 1 1
Farmington Public School District 11313 2 2 2 3
Farwell Area Schools 1480 4 2 3 5
Fennville Public Schools 1434 2 0 0 1
Fenton Area Public Schools 3509 3 4 4 3
Ferndale Public Schools 3487 2 2 0 2
Fitzgerald Public Schools 2868 3 4 5 7
Flat Rock Community Schools 1894 4 4 2 4
Flint City School District 8447 8 7 8 9
Flushing Community Schools 4127 1 1 1 3
Forest Area Community Schools 622 2 3 4 7
Forest Hills Public Schools 10094 0 0 0 1
Forest Park School District 475 7 6 4 5
Fowler Public Schools 566 1 0 0 1
Fowlerville Community Schools 2913 1 2 2 3
Frankenmuth School District 1160 2 2 1 2
Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools 530 2 2 1 2
Fraser Public Schools 5321 4 4 3 3
Free Soil Community Schools 3 4 5 4 5
Freeland Community School District 1823 1 1 1 3
Fremont Public School District 2216 2 2 3 4
Fruitport Community Schools 2974 0 1 3 5
Fulton Schools 1058 3 3 3 2
Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools 1134 3 4 3 4
Galien Township School District 91 5 5 9 8
Garden City Public Schools 4770 4 3 1 4
Gaylord Community Schools 3175 0 1 1 3
Genesee School District 810 5 6 5 6
Gibraltar School District 3751 0 1 1 3
Gladstone Area Schools 1510 2 3 2 3
Gladwin Community Schools 1807 1 2 1 3
Glen Lake Community Schools 781 2 2 2 2
Glenn Public School District 40 0 1 2 3
Gobles Public School District 864 3 4 3 5
Godfrey-Lee Public Schools 1802 2 1 1 2
Godwin Heights Public Schools 2223 1 2 1 2
Goodrich Area Schools 2111 1 2 1 3
Grand Blanc Community Schools 8744 1 0 1 3
Grand Haven Area Public Schools 6086 1 1 1 2
Grand Ledge Public Schools 5104 1 2 1 2
Grand Rapids Public Schools 17551 6 4 3 1
Grandville Public Schools 5646 0 0 0 3
Grant Public School District 1956 3 4 4 6
Grant Township S/D #2 6 2 1 0 2
Grass Lake Community Schools 1249 1 2 2 2
Greenville Public Schools 3766 1 0 0 3
Grosse Ile Township Schools 1847 2 4 3 3
Grosse Pointe Public Schools 8361 0 1 2 5
Gull Lake Community Schools 3163 1 2 2 2
Gwinn Area Community Schools 1223 1 1 1 5
Hagar Township S/D #6 65 3 4 4 4
Hale Area Schools 552 7 6 7 7
Hamilton Community Schools 2643 2 3 3 4
Hamtramck School District 2900 8 7 7 6
Hancock Public Schools 831 8 6 4 4
Hanover-Horton School District 1233 1 1 4 5
Harbor Beach Community Schools 553 3 2 2 3
Harbor Springs School District 860 1 2 3 5
Harper Creek Community Schools 2573 4 2 1 2
Harper Woods, The School District of the City of 1487 2 5 3 4
Harrison Community Schools 1499 5 4 4 3
Hart Public School District 1208 0 0 1 4
Hartford Public Schools 1381 1 0 1 2
Hartland Consolidated Schools 5491 1 2 1 2
Haslett Public Schools 2728 4 4 4 3
Hastings Area School District 2814 3 2 2 5
Hazel Park, School District of the City of 4152 5 5 5 6
Hemlock Public School District 1251 4 6 5 4
Hesperia Community Schools 1151 1 1 0 1
Highland Park City Schools 93 6 7 9 10
Hillman Community Schools 518 1 3 2 3
Hillsdale Community Schools 1446 2 3 3 4
Holland City School District 4182 4 3 4
Holly Area School District 3421 0 1 4 8
Holt Public Schools 5813 0 0 0 2
Holton Public Schools 891 1 1 3 5
Homer Community School District 1061 2 2 2 3
Hopkins Public Schools 1678 2 1 1 3
Houghton Lake Community Schools 1596 3 3 2 2
Houghton-Portage Township School District 1375 3 2 3 3
Howell Public Schools 7860 0 0 0 1
Hudson Area Schools 948 6 8 6 5
Hudsonville Public School District 6269 0 0 0 2
Huron School District 2467 1 1 1 4
Huron Valley Schools 9850 0 0 1 2
Ida Public School District 1465 0 0 1 4
Imlay City Community Schools 2164 1 2 2 4
Inkster City School District 2295 6 5 6 8
Inland Lakes Schools 812 2 5 4 6
Ionia Public Schools 3086 2 2 3 4
Ionia Township S/D #2 18 3 1 0 1
Iron Mountain Public Schools 1117 4 4 3 5
Ironwood Area Schools of Gogebic County 897 5 4 4 4
Ishpeming Public School District No. 1 845 6 5 4 4
Ithaca Public Schools 1283 2 3 2 3
Jackson Public Schools 6118 1 4 4 6
Jefferson Schools (Monroe) 2046 2 2 2 3
Jenison Public Schools 4793 1 2 2 3
Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools 776 2 4 4 6
Jonesville Community Schools 1482 2 2 1 1
Kalamazoo Public Schools 12687 1 1 1 2
Kaleva Norman Dickson School District 622 4 4 3 3
Kalkaska Public Schools 1607 2 1 0 1
Kearsley Community School District 3269 2 2 3 4
Kelloggsville Public Schools 2250 1 2 1 3
Kenowa Hills Public Schools 3315 1 4 3 3
Kent City Community Schools 1308 3 2 1 1
Kentwood Public Schools 8731 1 2 2 3
Kingsley Area Schools 1430 0 0 0 1
Kingston Community School District 635 0 1 1 2
Laingsburg Community Schools 1132 3 4 1 3
Lake City Area School District 1146 2 2 2 2
Lake Fenton Community Schools 1989 1 0 0 2
Lake Linden-Hubbell School District 516 5 4 3 5
Lake Orion Community Schools 7606 0 1 1 3
Lake Shore Public Schools (Macomb) 3575 1 1 1 3
Lakeshore School District (Berrien) 2876 0 0 0 1
Lakeview Community Schools (Montcalm) 1306 4 4 3 5
Lakeview Public Schools (Macomb) 3925 3 1 0 1
Lakeview Sch. District (Calhoun) 3856 0 0 0 1
Lakeville Community School District 1491 2 5 5 8
Lakewood Public Schools 2056 2 1 1 2
Lamphere Public Schools 2910 0 0 0 1
L’Anse Area Schools 718 3 3 3 3
L’Anse Creuse Public Schools 11604 1 2 3 4
Lansing Public School District 12555 1 4 4 6
Lapeer Community Schools 5907 4 6 5 6
Lawrence Public Schools 686 2 2 1 3
Lawton Community School District 998 0 0 0 2
Leland Public School District 460 1 3 1 2
Les Cheneaux Community Schools 290 8 7 4 3
Leslie Public Schools 1366 3 3 3 2
Lincoln Consolidated School District 4392 4 4 3 5
Lincoln Park, School District of the City of 4844 6 5 5 4
Linden Community Schools 2964 2 4 3 3
Litchfield Community Schools 311 4 5 4 5
Livonia Public Schools School District 15906 2 3 3 3
Lowell Area Schools 3822 0 0 0 1
Ludington Area School District 2242 3 6 7 6
Mackinac Island Public Schools 86 2 3 3 3
Mackinaw City Public Schools 192 7 4 4 7
Madison District Public Schools 1313 5 5 3 3
Madison School District (Lenawee) 1580 2 2 2 1
Mancelona Public Schools 1002 1 2 1 3
Manchester Community Schools 1190 1 1 1 2
Manistee Area Public Schools 1695 2 4 3 3
Manistique Area Schools 904 2 2 3 4
Manton Consolidated Schools 944 2 0 1 4
Maple Valley Schools 1213 5 7 7 7
Mar Lee School District 327 4 3 3 5
Marcellus Community Schools 772 4 4 3 6
Marion Public Schools 575 4 4 6 4
Marlette Community Schools 991 3 3 2 4
Marquette Area Public Schools 3107 4 4 2 2
Marshall Public Schools 2260 2 2 1 3
Martin Public Schools 600 3 3 5 3
Marysville Public Schools 2699 2 2 1 2
Mason Consolidated Schools (Monroe) 1158 2 2 3 5
Mason County Central Schools 1413 3 3 3 4
Mason County Eastern Schools 473 5 8 9 7
Mason Public Schools (Ingham) 3048 3 3 1 3
Mattawan Consolidated School 3787 2 1 0 3
Mayville Community School District 731 3 3 3 5
McBain Rural Agricultural Schools 1068 1 2 2 3
Melvindale-North Allen Park Schools 2843 2 1 1 1
Memphis Community Schools 962 1 1 0 3
Mendon Community School District 665 2 3 1 2
Menominee Area Public Schools 1560 2 3 4 7
Meridian Public Schools 1309 7 5 2 2
Merrill Community Schools 740 4 4 4 3
Mesick Consolidated Schools 658 5 4 2 3
Michigan Center School District 1397 1 3 3 4
Mid Peninsula School District 231 2 5 4 3
Midland Public Schools 8097 1 2 2 5
Milan Area Schools 2411 1 0 0 3
Millington Community Schools 1389 1 1 1 3
Mio-AuSable Schools 639 3 2 2 2
Mona Shores Public School District 3800 1 2 2 5
Monroe Public Schools 6140 1 3 1 4
Montabella Community Schools 800 5 7 4 5
Montague Area Public Schools 1503 2 3 2 5
Montrose Community Schools 1383 2 6 7 8
Moran Township School District 81 1 2 2 4
Morenci Area Schools 719 1 1 4 7
Morley Stanwood Community Schools 1279 3 4 5 6
Morrice Area Schools 608 6 4 4 3
Mount Clemens Community School District 1574 8 8 9 10
Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools 2481 3 3 4 5
Mt. Pleasant City School District 3498 1 2 2 2
Munising Public Schools 665 5 5 4 3
Muskegon Heights School District 133 7 8 9
Muskegon, Public Schools of the City of 4714 3 5 5 6
Napoleon Community Schools 1441 2 1 3 4
Negaunee Public Schools 1551 1 1 1 1
New Buffalo Area Schools 647 1 2 1 4
New Haven Community Schools 1345 5 6 6 6
New Lothrop Area Public Schools 912 0 0 0 1
Newaygo Public School District 1708 5 3 4 6
NICE Community School District 1216 4 5 5 4
Niles Community Schools 3883 0 0 1 4
North Adams-Jerome Public Schools 399 2 5 4 7
North Branch Area Schools 2441 2 3 3 4
North Central Area Schools 440 1 2 2 4
North Dickinson County Schools 309 3 4 5 8
North Huron School District 461 3 3 2 2
North Muskegon Public Schools 997 0 0 0 2
Northport Public School District 162 2 1 1 3
Northview Public Schools 3450 1 2 3 3
Northville Public Schools 7311 1 3 3 2
Northwest Community Schools 2810 2 4 4 3
Norway-Vulcan Area Schools 753 4 6 4 5
Nottawa Community School 140 3 3 3 5
Novi Community School District 6377 2 2 2 3
Oak Park School District 4387 5 7 9 8
Oakridge Public Schools 1915 3 3 3 4
Okemos Public Schools 3941 2 3 4 4
Olivet Community Schools 1543 0 0 1 2
Onaway Area Community School District 673 2 4 5 5
Oneida Township S/D #3 14 3 5
Onekama Consolidated Schools 392 4 5 2 2
Onsted Community Schools 1529 2 3 2 4
Ontonagon Area Schools 428 4 5 6 6
Orchard View Schools 2558 4 3 2 4
Oscoda Area Schools 1294 3 3 2 4
Otsego Public Schools 2357 2 2 1 2
Ovid-Elsie Area Schools 1723 0 1 1 4
Owendale-Gagetown Area School District 199 5 4 3 2
Owosso Public Schools 3262 4 6 8 6
Oxford Community Schools 5409 0 0 0 2
Palo Community School District 78 2 3 3 4
Parchment School District 1803 3 2 0 3
Paw Paw Public School District 2268 2 2 1 1
Peck Community School District 460 2 3 4 6
Pellston Public Schools 652 1 2 3 3
Pennfield Schools 2093 1 1 0 1
Pentwater Public School District 284 1 1 1 2
Perry Public Schools 1397 6 7 7 9
Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools 663 0 0 0 1
Pickford Public Schools 533 0 0 1 4
Pinckney Community Schools 3986 4 3 2 6
Pinconning Area Schools 1440 4 6 6 6
Pine River Area Schools 1174 2 3 2 3
Pittsford Area Schools 680 2 3 2 4
Plainwell Community Schools 2737 0 1 1 2
Plymouth-Canton Community Schools 18223 2 1 1 2
Pontiac City School District 4691 8 9 9 10
Port Hope Community Schools 80 3 4 4 5
Port Huron Area School District 9564 4 5 4 4
Portage Public Schools 8753 1 1 0 2
Portland Public Schools 2056 2 2 0 2
Posen Consolidated School District No. 9 257 4 6 7 5
Potterville Public Schools 924 4 4 4 4
Powell Township Schools 45 4 2 2 3
Public Schools of Petoskey 2947 2 1 1 1
Quincy Community Schools 1239 4 3 1 4
Rapid River Public Schools 386 4 5 4 3
Ravenna Public Schools 1116 3 2 4 4
Reading Community Schools 838 2 1 1 3
Redford Union Schools, District No. 1 2893 5 7 6 8
Reed City Area Public Schools 1542 2 4 5 8
Reese Public Schools 878 2 2 2 2
Reeths-Puffer Schools 3822 0 0 0 3
Republic-Michigamme Schools 142 7 7 5 4
Richmond Community Schools 1645 5 4 4 4
River Rouge School District 1233 9 8 7 7
River Valley School District 660 4 3 3 4
Riverview Community School District 2870 1 2 3 4
Rochester Community School District 15053 1 1 1 2
Rockford Public Schools 8003 5 4 2 2
Rogers City Area Schools 562 1 3 3 3
Romeo Community Schools 5438 1 0 0 3
Romulus Community Schools 3015 1 3 6 8
Roscommon Area Public Schools 1356 3 3 3 4
Roseville Community Schools 5183 5 7 7 6
Royal Oak City School District 5205 5 2 1 1
Rudyard Area Schools 811 6
Saginaw City School District 7697 6 6 7 8
Saginaw Township Community Schools 4873 0 0 0 2
Saline Area Schools 5311 1 2 2 5
Sand Creek Community Schools 944 0 0 0 1
Sandusky Community School District 1016 2 3 2 4
Saranac Community Schools 1136 1 2 1 2
Saugatuck Public Schools 852 1 1 1 1
Sault Ste. Marie Area Schools 2500 5 3 2 2
Schoolcraft Community Schools 1102 2 2 2 2
Shelby Public Schools 1394 4 3 5 5
Shepherd Public Schools 1778 3 2 2 2
Sigel Township S/D #3F 11 1 0 1 3
Sigel Township S/D #4F 19 3 5 5 6
Sigel Township S/D #6 8 2 2 1 3
Sodus Township S/D #5 74 2 3 3 4
South Haven Public Schools 2143 0 0 0 2
South Lake Schools 2133 1 3 5 6
South Lyon Community Schools 7343 1 2 1 2
South Redford School District 3260 1 0 1 3
Southfield Public School District 7639 6 7 5 5
Southgate Community School District 5046 3 5 5 7
Sparta Area Schools 2716 0 0 1 3
Spring Lake Public Schools 2471 1 1 1 2
Springport Public Schools 1038 3 2 0 1
St. Charles Community Schools 1122 1 2 2 4
St. Ignace Area Schools 641 3 3 3 4
St. Johns Public Schools 3149 1 0 0 1
St. Joseph Public Schools 2835 1 0 0 1
St. Louis Public Schools 1128 2 4 2 2
Standish-Sterling Community Schools 1645 3 2 2 4
Stanton Township Public Schools 152 5 4 4 4
Stephenson Area Public Schools 667 3 6 5 4
Stockbridge Community Schools 1545 1 1 2 4
Sturgis Public Schools 3288 0 1 1 3
Summerfield Schools 722 2 2 2 5
Superior Central School District 364 0 2 2 6
Suttons Bay Public Schools 695 6 8 8 7
Swan Valley School District 1794 1 2 1 2
Swartz Creek Community Schools 3992 1 3 4 7
Tahquamenon Area Schools 764 5 5 4 6
Tawas Area Schools 1277 0 1 2 3
Taylor School District 7308 3 5 7 10
Tecumseh Public Schools 2955 3 3 2 2
Tekonsha Community Schools 298 3 3 5 5
Thornapple Kellogg School District 3085 1 2 2 3
Three Rivers Community Schools 2721 1 1 1 1
Traverse City Area Public Schools 10044 2 3 3 3
Trenton Public Schools 2654 2 3 4 5
Tri County Area Schools 2175 0 1 1 4
Troy School District 12404 1 2 2 2
Ubly Community Schools 792 1 1 1 2
Union City Community Schools 1089 2 2 1 1
Unionville-Sebewaing Area S.D. 788 3 2 0 2
Utica Community Schools 28829 2 3 2 2
Van Buren Public Schools 5228 5 6 5 6
Van Dyke Public Schools 2936 5 6 6 8
Vanderbilt Area Schools 141 3 6 6 8
Vandercook Lake Public Schools 1276 0 0 1 3
Vassar Public Schools 1343 3 4 6 8
Verona Township S/D #1F 26 4 4 2 2
Vestaburg Community Schools 678 2 3 4 4
Vicksburg Community Schools 2620 4 3 2 1
Wakefield-Marenisco School District 286 2 1 2 3
Waldron Area Schools 307 7 7 6 6
Walkerville Public Schools 305 4 4 3 4
Walled Lake Consolidated Schools 15277 2 2 2 2
Warren Consolidated Schools 15389 1 2 1 4
Warren Woods Public Schools 3398 0 0 0 1
Waterford School District 10840 1 1 1 3
Watersmeet Township School District 176 4 4 4 6
Watervliet School District 1342 2 3 2 3
Waverly Community Schools 2810 3 3 3 3
Wayland Union Schools 2823 2 3 3 2
Wayne-Westland Community School District 12188 3 4 3 3
Webberville Community Schools 616 3 1 1 3
Wells Township School District 14 5 5 3 3
West Bloomfield School District 6349 4 6 4 5
West Branch-Rose City Area Schools 2178 2 3 2 5
West Iron County Public Schools 893 6 3 2 3
West Ottawa Public School District 7401 0 0 0 2
Western School District 2937 0 0 0 1
Westwood Community School District 2535 9 8 7 6
Westwood Heights Schools 850 5 6 8 8
White Cloud Public Schools 1069 5 8 8 8
White Pigeon Community Schools 790 1 1 2 3
Whitefish Township Schools 46 4 3 2 3
Whiteford Agricultural School District of the Counties of Lenawee and Monroe 681 1 1 2 3
Whitehall District Schools 2182 2 4 3 4
Whitmore Lake Public School District 1078 3 1 1 3
Whittemore-Prescott Area Schools 973 4 5 6 6
Williamston Community Schools 1882 4 3 1 2
Willow Run Community Schools 1425 8 8 7 7
Wolverine Community School District 336 2 3 3 3
Woodhaven-Brownstown School District 4944 1 2 3 4
Wyandotte, School District of the City of 4665 3 2 2 1
Wyoming Public Schools 4631 0 3 4 5
Yale Public Schools 2080 0 1 1 4
Ypsilanti City School District 3371 7 7 6 8
Zeeland Public Schools 5806 0 0 0 2

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

5 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Ron Lemke

    Trust me I have experienced School stress. In 1981 I was in the Alpena Schools when we went bankrupt. Closed our doors ,no money left. Enrollment went from almost 10000 students K 12 to 3960. The retirement costs for boards and employees have gone through the roof and state funding well what can I say. Think long and hard when your children want to go into education. My 35 years were very good to me but oh how things have changed. Graduation requirements are totally unrealistic if they are to be the same for all kids. Vocational education now CTE has almost disappeared is some schools and that is where many of the jobs will be. Lansing you need to get real serious and soon. We need lots of help to just survive.

    1. David

      Unfortunately, it is evident the leadership in Lansing has a different goal in mind… the dismantling of Michigan’s system of public education and remaking it into a ‘for profit’ venture. This is the only way public tax dollars can be channeled into the hands of the private sector.

      No help will be coming from Lansing until Gov. Snyder is out of office and the Republican majority is defeated and replaced with decision makers who have the best interest of all Michigan citizens at heart.

  2. Charles Richards

    The gentlemen from Citizens Research Council say, “Some point to the negative impact of recent funding reductions and the need for more state funding to prop up district resources. ” In short, whatever contracts the districts negotiate or compensation and pension benefits they promise, it is the state’s function to ratify their promises. Isn’t that a blank check? That is one of the downsides of Proposal A. When a third party is paying the bills expenses tend to out run revenue. The authors point out the impact that contributions to MPSERS is having on districts, but who promised those pensions?

  3. Chuck Jordan

    Questions: How much of the financial distress is due to retirement? health insurance? decreasing numbers of students due to movement out of state or schools of choice or charter schools?
    What effects have schools observed in addressing decreased revenue like larger class sizes? fewer experienced teachers? fewer courses like art and music?

    How much (%) are schools spending now on testing (costs vs. benefits)?

  4. Karen Sherwood

    Charles Richards asks, “Who promised those pensions?” Answer – the State of Michigan. Another question: Who offered an early retirement to school employees just a few years ago? Answer – the State of Michigan. Who allows jobs that were once paying in to the retirement fund (Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System – MPSERS) to be privatized so they are no longer paying in? Answer – the State of Michigan. Who allows retired school employees to return as “contracted” individuals, no longer paying in to the retirement system but still drawing from it? Answer – the State of Michigan.

    Yes, the percentage per employee now being paid into MPSERS has increased. No kidding! When there is a PLANNED withdrawal of current positions paying in to a retirement fund, there must be a PLANNED increase of funding per position still in the system.

    Of course the decrease in positions contributing to a retirement fund is not the only factor that has increased current retirement costs. However, it is a factor that should have been managed and wasn’t.

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