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School funding disparity

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
...continued from page 7

"Bloomfield Hills has a problem because they have an aging population, and younger families can't afford to move in," Arsen said. "They also have access to terrific facilities. They can fund them at very low tax rates and they can use their sinking funds. It's a way to raise money locally to pay for infrastructure needs, and it takes the pressure off the operating budget."

"The math is inescapable. Everyone's piece is getting smaller. The piece equates to the funding you receive," Thiel said. "That's the real rub, the real challenge. Districts are dealing with real revenue declines of one to three percent each year, and you can never catch your breath, and never rightsize."

He explained that student contractions in a district are spread across multiple classes and multiple buildings, "so just eliminating one teacher doesn't solve the problem. It takes a few years of three percent declines to drop a fifth grade class, or to close a building."

"Proposal A occurred 20-some years ago, and we have to look where are now, and the gaps that still exist, how it's worked, and not worked. There are still huge disparities just look at Detroit Schools. How do we break down debt service and legacy costs? It's all about the foundation allowance. The fact is, I think the system is still broken," said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of Michigan League for Public Policy. "At the end, the conversation is all about the economic future of the state. We have to figure out how to get our graduates to have the education and the skills to get our state going. We have lost students. We need to properly educate our students, or they will not be able to provide the taxes to keep the economy going.

"It's an economic survival issue. The investments early will have a huge return on investment."

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