LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Right now in Lansing, there are two different takes on adjustments lawmakers made to the K-12 education budget plan for next school year that the governor proposed in January.
While some say the bill falls short, others say it's not perfect but is a starting point.
Republican state Sen. Wayne Schmidt chairs the subcommittee that produced the K-12 education budget.
“It’s a very solid budget, and it’s a beginning,” Schmidt said.
Democratic state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, Minority Vice Chair of the subcommittee, has a different take.
“Some of it is cuts to what the governor proposed. Some of it is real cuts like the special ed funding,” Bayer said.
One thing both can agree on as a positive is the proposed $450 increase in per pupil funding.
However, Bayer and leaders in education say other services are severely underfunded.
“You would be remiss if we didn’t point out there is no increase for our at-risk students and no increase for our special education students. These are two student populations that have been most significantly impacted by the pandemic,” Woodhaven-Brownstown School District Superintendent Mark Greathead said.
Robert McCann, executive director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan agrees certain areas are underfunded in schools.
“Those services right now are being paid for with one-time funding from the federal government that’s going to run out soon. And if we as a state don’t choose to take this opportunity and invest in these programs long term, then what message are we sending these kids,” McCann said.
Greathead adds that school staffing recruitment is a big issue for Michigan schools, as well as mental health support staff and the need for bus drivers.
"The governor's budget proposal provided a significant level of funding for that to address those issues in a multi-faceted approach and then the Senate's proposal comes in way under that. I'm not sure what we'd be able to do," Greathead said.
Schmidt says there are things that weren't included but reassures they will be. He also says all sides have the best intentions.
“All of those things are going to be funded. The fact that many of those things are in the budget, not necessarily at the dollar levels that the House and the Senate want or that the governor wants, but the fact that they’re in there mean they’re a starting point for negotiations and we are going to fund them more.”
Negotiations will continue as the House prepares its own version of an education budget.
Schmidt vows to have this passed by July 1.