In order for schools to determine their budgets and resources, state lawmakers must allocate the one-time funds before July 1, the start of the fiscal school year. If the Legislature misses this deadline, Michigan students may lose out on one-time opportunities to fix the gaps in their pandemic education.
“We aren’t looking at making difficult decisions around where to make cuts. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make critical investments … to fix generational holes in Michigan school funding formulas.” —Robert McCann, K-12 Alliance of Michigan
The Michigan Legislature has already missed the May 24 deadline to appropriate $3.7 billion in federal post-pandemic recovery education funding.
Listen: What happens if the Michigan Legislature fails to allocate school funding by July 1?
Robert McCann is executive director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, a statewide education advocacy and policy organization representing more than 100 school districts. He says while the rest of the state’s government runs on an Oct. 1 start to the fiscal year, schools need to know how they can allocate funding in their budgets by July 1.
“Without funding … districts can’t move forward with hiring new support positions because of the budget uncertainty … there’s a real urgency in getting this done,” he says. If the Legislature continues to withhold the $3.7 billion in federal funds, McCann says schools won’t know if they can afford supportive staff or programs in the wake of the pandemic. “All they had to do was pass the bill that said this money would be appropriated,” he says. ”I’m certainly hopeful that the federal government won’t penalize students because the Legislature couldn’t do their job.”
These federal funds present a rare opportunity to make systematic change in Michigan’s education, McCann says, if lawmakers act fast. “We aren’t looking at making difficult decisions around where to make cuts. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make critical investments… to fix generational holes in Michigan school funding formulas.”
McCann says many other states have already spent their federal education funding, leaving Michigan students behind. “It’s deeply disappointing that we are tying political issues to school funding, but that’s the unfortunate reality of Lansing right now.”