MI Senate to meet Saturday to talk school funding

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — In a rare Saturday session, the state Senate will address some significant issues as families prepare to send their children back to school.

The reason for the session is to clarify some of the rules governing schools that are beginning to reopen after closing earlier this spring due to the pandemic.

Much of that will deal with how students are accounted for and consequently, how school districts will be funded.

According to Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich, the Senate will not be telling districts how to reopen schools rather what to expect from the state when they do.

“What we’re going to tell you is if your kid is in school — whether it’s virtual, hybrid or in the classroom — we’re going to be flexible on the amount of test that we make them take. We’re going to give some better clarity on the way we count pupils. We’re going to use largely off of last year’s numbers. Some on this year’s numbers much more than normally we do we’re kind of flipping the percentage around because we don’t want to punish people that decide to stay home, we don’t want to punish schools because they need to have the resources,” he said.

Because Michigan schools are funded largely on per-pupil bases, the “daily count” becomes extremely important.

At least one proposal suggests that up to 75% of that count be taken from last year’s numbers when students were all doing in-person learning.

After the Senate session on Saturday, the House will hold a similarly rare Monday session to take up the same legislation.