March 13 2013 12:00 AM

School aid changes could cost Lansing schools millions based on how it structures kindergarten classes

Tuesday, May 22 — A proposed change in the State School Aid Act this year could negate all $2.5 million that was saved by the Lansing School District in its new reconfiguration plan.  

Since 1993, districts have been given full state funding for kindergarten students regardless of whether they’re in class for a full day or half day, said Lansing Board of Education member Peter Spadafore. A new proposed funding formula will only dole out the $6,848 per pupil funding for kindergarteners if the district offers full-day kindergarten. Lansing offers both full-day and half-day kindergarten classes.

Lansing has offered full-day kindergarten long before this requirement was discussed, he said. However, the district has been using federal Title I money, which is allocated to school districts to use for at-risk students, to pay for the second half of the school day and general funds for the first half.

If the changes occur, the district would not be able to use the $2.5 million in federal money to pay for the second half of kindergarten school day because of federal rules against “supplanting,” or shifting, federal dollars to pay for required state programs.

“It’s effectively a cut,” Spadafore said. “We’ve been offering the same program for years but now we would not be able to operate it with federal dollars.”

The district would have to find another use for the Title I money and come up with more general fund dollars to pay for the all day kindergarten.

“This is a mistake in the proposed state funding formula,” Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said in a statement. “Lansing is not alone and other school districts could see a multi-million dollar effect in access to federal funding too.”

The Middle Cities Education Association — representing a group of urban schools in Michigan — and the Michigan Association of School Boards have expressed opposition to the proposed changes.