FY 2025 School Aid Budget Builds Upon Historic School Funding Progress for Students who are Underserved

State leaders propose historic funding again in FY 25 for English Learners, while supporting greater investment for students from low-income backgrounds

DETROIT (June 27, 2024) – Amid a tight budget cycle, The Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity (MPEO) coalition applauded investments in the proposed FY 2025 School Aid budget that built upon historic school funding wins for students who are the most underserved. At the same time, they called on state leaders to put in place strong new systems of fiscal transparency and accountability for those investments.

As overall revenue declined, legislators supported historic increases again this year for English Learners, while also increasing funding for students from low-income backgrounds through the state’s new Opportunity Index, a systemic funding change approved last year that directs more investment toward school districts based on concentrated poverty.

The Opportunity Index and additional support for English Learners have been key advocacy priorities for MPEO and The Education Trust-Midwest. The progress on fair funding follows major legislative movement in a package aimed at addressing dyslexia, one of the most common barriers to reading mastery for students, which also has been championed by the MPEO coalition.

“We applaud the leadership of Sen. Camilleri and Rep. Weiss as they continue to prioritize funding for students with the greatest needs,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest and one of the three chairs of the MPEO. “While more needs to be done to ensure that every student has the resources they need to achieve at high levels, we look forward to continuing to work with our state leaders to build upon historic progress made last year and commit to fully fund the Opportunity Index and the needs of English Learners.”

Specifically, the budget includes the following priorities:

English Learners: The budget includes a 26% increase in funding for English Learners. This marks the second straight budget to make historic increases in funding for these students, a priority of ETM and MPEO, as well as Arab-American and Latino leaders. The proposed $10 million increase builds on last year’s historic increase for a total increase of 90% – or $24 million – in English Learner funding since FY 2022.

Opportunity Index: The budget invests an additional $83 million in the Opportunity Index, bringing the total investment this year for students from low-income backgrounds to over a billion dollars.

Students with Disabilities: The budget includes an overall increase of $365 million. Notably, it also contains $500,000 to study Michigan’s special education system and make recommendations to improve outcomes for students with disabilities, which was a recommendation of the MPEO.

Early literacy: To address the state’s early reading crisis, state lawmakers also increased funding for early literacy by $87 million. But increased funding is not enough. MPEO continues to prioritize passage of Senate Bills 567 and 568, which would improve the state’s read-by-grade three law by better identifying students with dyslexia. The bills go further by requiring those students to receive interventions based on the science of reading and by ensuring increased training for current and future teachers. MPEO members have been instrumental in building support for this legislation for multiple years, including through advocacy and testifying in support of the bills. A vote is expected in the House Education Committee later this year.

The MPEO has been calling on state leaders to go further in their investments to be in line with what leading states practice and research recommends. MPEO recommends fully funding the Opportunity Index and the needs of English Learners over a period of five years. That would amount to annual investments of at least $500 million toward the Opportunity Index and $40 million toward English Learner funding in each of the next five budget years.

“Additional investments in the Opportunity Index are critical to right the past wrongs and ensure that students with the greatest needs in Michigan – Black and Latino students, students from low-income backgrounds, English Learners, and students with disabilities – have every opportunity to reach their highest potential,” said Alice Thompson, chair of the education committee of the NAACP Detroit branch. Thompson is also one of the chairs of the MPEO and CEO of BFDI Educational services Inc.

The budget also includes language to allow some flexibility on how districts in Opportunity Index Bands 5 and 6 – those serving the highest concentrations of students from low-income backgrounds – can spend the funding they receive from the Opportunity Index. However, the budget does not include language to provide increased transparency and accountability to ensure the money reaches the intended students at the schools where they learn, which is critical as the state invests more to support students from low-income backgrounds.

“This was a missed opportunity. It is critical that the state create a strong new system of transparency for increased Opportunity Index spending,” said Mike Jandernoa, founder & chairman, 42 North Partners and one of the three chairs of the MPEO. “That includes ensuring that resources targeted for students with the greatest needs actually reach their schools.”

The budget did not include new money for MI Kids Back on Track, a program that provided high dosage tutoring to students, which is all the more urgent as students struggle to recover unfinished learning from COVID-19. But the proposed budget would allow districts to continue spending the $150 million already appropriated until Sept. 30, 2027.

“We’re glad to see the timeline extended, and we urge leaders to invest much more over the next year,” Arellano said. “Learning recovery is far from over for students, their families and their teachers. Now should be the moment to invest more to accelerate recovery and address long standing inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic.”

By Published On: June 27, 2024Categories: News

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