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Senate and House Pass Budget for 2020-2021 Fiscal Year

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Sept. 30, 2020

Senate Bill 927, the budget deal for the upcoming fiscal year that starts tomorrow, was agreed to unanimously by Conference Committee on September 23. It then passed both the House and Senate with very little debate and by wide margins that same day.

This budget is much better than we were anticipating at the beginning of this process due to higher than expected state revenues released at the August Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. A detailed analysis of the bill is available for review.

In this article, we break down the School Aid Budget by section and focus on the highlights. If you have further questions about the budget, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sec. 11d – Additional per-pupil: restores the $175 per-pupil cut from the agreement that balanced the 2019-2020 budget and adds a one-time appropriation of approximately $65 per pupil. This will be distributed based on a 50/50 blend of the 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 membership counts.

Sec. 11p – Coronavirus Relief Fund: requires districts that receive money under this section must, to the greatest extent possible, continue to pay its employees and contractors during any disruptions or closures due to COVID-19.

Sec. 18 – Reporting requirements: extends the deadline for districts and ISDs to report annual data to the Center for Educational Performance and Information to Dec. 1 for this year only.

Sec. 20 – Per-pupil foundation: maintains the target (formerly known as basic) foundation at $8,529 and the minimum foundation at $8,111.

Sec. 21h – Partnership districts: requires them to receive funding and purchase a data analytics tool.

Sec. 22p – Partnership districts: specifies that a partnership agreement is for three years and requires a designated district to complete a signed partnership district agreement within 90 days or funding can be withheld.

Sec. 25i – Attendance recovery: this new section appropriates $2 million for an attendance recovery program for all districts that opt in to serve eligible students.

Sec. 25j – Virtual learning support grants: this new section allocates $2 million for ISDs to assist with virtual instruction costs. The funds must be used to support districts that started the school year with virtual or hybrid instruction. The money can be used for assisting students with individualized education plans to address the increased numbers of chronically absent students and/or to offer childcare solutions for elementary-aged students.

Sec. 29a – Increasing enrollment districts: appropriates $65 million for districts with increasing enrollment. Districts are eligible if their membership count would have been higher under the current law blend than the “super blend” created for the 2020-2021 school year. The funds will be prorated if necessary.

Sec. 31k – School lunch debt: this new section allocates $1 million for payments to districts to forgive all outstanding student meal debt. The funds may be prorated if necessary.

Sec. 31n – Mental health and support services: increases funding by $5.6 million to $36.9 million and adds language to allow districts to use funds received under this section in 2018-2019 through 2020-2021 for up to two fiscal years beyond when allocated.

Secs. 32d and 39 – Great Start Readiness Program: for this fiscal year only, waives household income eligibility thresholds but maintains that children from the lowest household incomes be prioritized first.

Sec. 35a – Third grade reading: increases funding by $3 million with $2.5 million for literacy coaches and $500,000 for literacy training for principals. It also reestablishes funding for the Michigan Education Corps and eliminates the grants for summer school reading programs.

Sec. 51f – Special education funding: increases funding for special education programs by $70.3 million to reflect consensus cost estimates.

Sec. 98a – Extended COVID-19 learning plans: The changes to this section will allow school boards to reaffirm or modify the plans monthly instead of every 30 days; expand the staff that can do the two-way interaction with students and removes the requirement that it be initiated by the teacher; revise the deadline for ISDs to approve district plans from Oct. 1 to Oct. 9, 2020; change the date to post the plan on a district website to Oct. 12, 2020; and require districts to report by Jan. 15, 2021 on the amount and type of professional development, how it was delivered for teachers, and what training was provided to parents and teachers.

Sec. 99z – New teacher retention stipend: this new section provides $5 million for first-year teachers who complete this school year as a full-time teacher in their district. Teachers in districts where at least 70% of students are economically disadvantaged would receive $1,000; all other teachers would receive $500. Districts would be required to provide an additional $500 match per teacher.

Sec. 104(4) – Kindergarten entry observation: suspends the requirement for statewide implementation of the tool for this year.

Sec. 104g – SAT/PSAT: For the 2020-2021 fiscal year only, this new section requires districts to make the SAT and PSAT available in the fall to those students who could not take it in 2019-2020 school year. It also states that these tests can’t be counted toward accountability measures and students shall be encouraged to take the exam but not required.

Sec. 105 – Schools of choice: for this school year only, extends the school of choice deadline to Oct. 13, 2020 if the application was filed by the end of the first week of school.

Sec. 147 – MPSERS rates: makes adjustments to all of the rates.

Secs. 147c and 147e – MPSERS payments: increases the state share of the unfunded actuarial accrued liability due to implementation of the 2018 Actuarial Experience Study. Also increases the reimbursements for increased normal costs.

Sec. 152b – Nonpublic school reimbursement: maintains this line item with a $100 appropriation.

The budget also includes line items with small amounts of money for specific projects such as Conductive Learning from Aquinas College (Sec. 55), Women in Technology (Sec. 99i), Algebra Nation (Sec. 99t), Imagine Learning (Sec. 99u), and Teach for America (Sec. 99x), among others.

It passed the Senate by a vote of 36-1 with Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) as the lone no vote. It passed the House by a vote of 103-2 with Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) and Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland) as the no votes. It is now before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her consideration and approval.

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