In 1994, funding for Michigan public schools changed dramatically with the passage of Proposal A, which transferred local control of school funding to the Michigan Legislature. Overnight, the predominant source of revenue for public schools became the per pupil foundation amount established by the state legislature each year. The goal of Proposal A was in part to equalize funding across the state. Reductions to the gap made the most progress between 1995 and 2000 when the Michigan economy was booming and the per pupil foundational allowance of previously lower funded districts were increased.
Under a struggling Michigan economy, the per pupil foundational amount for Farmington Public Schools has trailed inflation, and the current per pupil foundation grant, adjusted for inflation, is below our 1995 level. It should also be noted, that since 1995, local school districts are responsible for employer contributions to state health care and retirement plans without receiving additional foundational amounts to cover these expenses.
Michigan’s faltering economy and reduced state funding has put extreme financial pressure on public schools across Michigan. Since 2004, as Michigan’s economy has declined, the state has three times issued mid-year executive order cuts in school funding. Starting in 2010, a dangerous precedent was set when the School Aid Fund was used to balance the overall state budget. This same year, many districts, including Farmington Public Schools, lost its “hold harmless” (20j) funding promised under Proposal A. In 2011 the School Aid Fund, historically used for K-12 funding only, was used to fund community colleges and universities, further reducing the District’s per pupil allowance.
Adequate and consistent funding is the greatest challenge impacting Farmington Public Schools’ ability to continue to support and enhance its outstanding educational programs. Receiving the best possible education is essential to preparing our students to live in a fast-paced, rapidly changing world. They live in a world where technology is outdated almost as soon as it is introduced, and “learning to learn” is one of the most important skills students can master. We must seek to fund enhancements necessary to ensure that Farmington area students continue to excel and that our community continues to grow and prosper.
Educational foundations like ours have been developed in thousands of communities across the country, and they are playing an increasingly important role in shaping educational opportunities in dozens of communities in Michigan. Now is the time for the Farmington / Farmington Hills community to directly respond to the increasing and pressing demands of today’s students in our local schools. With your support, we can better meet the challenges created by the changes to school funding.