However much the state budgeted for K12 education, thank you


In 1999, when I started my teaching career in earnest, Lansing Community College hired me as an adjunct, meaning part time. My hiring interview was at 5 p.m. with a senior faculty member who was retiring at the end of the day. Like that day, at 5 p.m. She wanted to know how many classes was I going to teach? 

I jockeyed a bit. “That depends on how much I am going to be paid,” I said. 

It didn’t, not really. I was coming off four years of being an entrepreneur, and our daughter was in college, so I just needed more money.

My job interviewer shook her head. “Somebody else decides that, and he’s on vacation.” 

Then, like magic, I realized the right answer was, however much it is, thank you. 

How to say thank you to the state Legislature and the governor is the lesson our state education leaders are teaching the rest of us in Michigan right now. Those officials are quoted in the Michigan Department of Education press release “Governor, Legislature Agree to School Budget That Builds on Growth.” It announced the education appropriation. 

An appropriation is for a specific purpose and comes from the state budget, which comes from the general fund, which contains all our state’s resources, including taxpayer dollars. 

The new budget is an extraordinary $81 billion, of which a record $21 billion is for K12 education.  That includes a 5% increase of $458.00 per pupil, creating a new total expenditure per pupil of $9,608 for local districts, including the per pupil amount that the Lottery kicks in.  


Among the thank yous:

“Investing in our schools, our students, our teachers, and our communities makes a strong statement,” Pamela Pugh, president of the state Board of Education, said. 

“Kudos to the governor and state Legislature for their work,” said State Education Superintendent Michael Rice. “In the 30 years since Proposal A to change the school funding system, Michigan hasn’t had two years of back-to-back funding increases close to FY23 and 24.”

“The governor and state legislators did well for Michigan’s students,” David Hecker, president of American Federation of Teachers Michigan, said. 

Paul Liabenow, executive director of the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, said his organization “is most delighted and thankful for the remarkable school aid budget that will bring us closer to providing adequate funding to secure the 1.5 million students in Michigan.” 

 In my last column, I was grateful for Michigan STEM education grants showing our state moving into the world of education that readies students for the digital future, not deeper into our own heads.

The money didn’t matter, I wrote, but since we are now talking about the state education budget, here are a few money items I am wondering about. 



Any parent who ever paid for daycare will appreciate that Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program for 4-year-old children got a $72.3 million fund increase. 

But what is the total for that program? Figuring that out is like an algebra equation:  X + $72.3 million = Y, X being the amount already in that budget, and Y being the new total after the increase. 

But, however much it is, thank you. 


School transportation:

Some families cannot afford to operate a reliable personal vehicle, so it’s no surprise to see a school transportation appropriation of “$125 million of a $350 million fund to begin to reimburse school districts for the costs of school transportation.” Is that $350 million a school transportation fund? 

Whatever it is, thank you.

The education appropriation also includes $125 million to purchase environmentally correct school buses. Is the FY ‘23 school transportation total, $125 million + $125 million = $250 million? Or is it $350 million + $125 million = $375 million? 

However much it is, thank you. 


Rebuilding the Michigan Teaching Profession is a great title to show a focus for the education budget, but Rebuilding the Michigan Teaching Profession is an actual individual item that includes $25 million for educator fellowships, which is professional development, and $50 million for student-teacher stipends. Other items are $150 million for MIKids Back on Track to tutor students who fell substantially behind on learning during the pandemic; $140 million for Early Literacy Training for pre-K-5 teachers; $225 million Student Loan Repayment Pilot Program; $50 million over five years for Educator Mentoring and Induction; $15 million Teachers in rural school districts; $25 million Mathematics Teaching and Learning; $6 million Teaching diverse and local histories.

That’s $686 million for teachers. Or is it $676 million because the $50 million for Educator Mentoring and Induction is paid out over five years, which is $10 million a year?

However much it is, thank you. 

I believe my column shows the state education budget for these three major areas totals $1 billion. Give or take $200 million, more or less. But, however much it is, thank you. I mean that sincerely. Agreeing to fund public education at this level was a huge step for us all.  Let’s keep it up. 


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