During the regular Rockford Board of Education meeting held Monday, April 11, the board approved a resolution requesting the School Aid Fund be used solely for K-12 education. The following resolution was offered by Randall Sellhorn and supported by Timothy Lewis. Whereas, well-educated students prepared for college and careers is the best investment Michigan can make in the pursuit of a strong economy and a better future for its residents; and Whereas, Michigan’s standards for high school graduation have never been higher, with all students completing the Michigan Merit Curriculum and Exam to prepare them for post-secondary education or training; and Whereas, Michigan voters in 1994 approved Proposal A, a measure that eliminated the ability of school districts to seek operating funds form constituents and shifted that responsibility to the state through an increase in the sales tax; and Whereas, the ballot language of Proposal A clearly indicated those revenues would be totally dedicated to public schools, as it was crafted to provide tax release for property owners while maintaining adequate funding for K-12 education, Therefore it is resolved, that the Rockford Public Schools Board of Education requests the School Aid Fund be used solely for K-12 public schools and the children they serve.
School Aid Fund
The Good, the bad, the ugly by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools The Good—This fall, Rockford’s marching band took third place in the state in Division I competition. This is the strongest rating our marching band has ever earned in recent history. Congratulations! Several of our athletic teams won district and regional championships. Congratulations to Rockford’s boys water polo team, who won their seventh state title over the past 10 years. Their achievement was especially gratifying because the team was not considered a threat during tournament play. New classroom expansions, paid through the 2008 bond issue, at Cannonsburg, Lakes, Roguewood, and Valley View elementary schools are now ready for students. Planning continues for classroom additions to Belmont and Crestwood elementary schools. District-wide technology upgrades along with recreation and athletic field additions continue toward completion and within budget. Rockford’s academic and fine arts programs continue to exceed the high expectations established by staff, students and community. The successes our students experience in the classroom continue to validate Rockford’s outstanding academic programs. The Bad—Since the early 2000s, bi-partisan organizations such as the Citizens Research Council and University of Michigan economists, have been predicting that the current system to fund public education would soon be broken. Well, it’s almost 2010, and the system is on life support with barely a pulse. With the 1994 implementation of Proposal A, school districts currently receive two-thirds of their revenue through state sales and income taxes and one-third from property taxes. With Michigan’s high unemployment rate and significant downsizing of manufacturing, revenues from state sales and income taxes are below expectations, and revenue from property taxes are barely neutral, creating what is called a “structural deficit.” A structural deficit exists when revenues to fund essential services, such as police, fire and education, are less than required to maintain existing programs. Most experts will tell you that state government cannot “cut their way” out of a structural deficit and that new or expanded revenue resources must be created. Even in a severely stressed economy, Michigan lawmakers have the means to restructure the funding system for essential services. But the question still remains: “Does the will exist?” If Michigan’s current system to fund public education is broken because of the structural deficit, […]
“It’s like threatening to tear off your leg, and when they only tear off your foot you are supposed to feel good about it,” said Rockford Superintendent of Schools Michael Shibler. He referred to last week’s per-student funding cut of $165, passed by the legislature Thursday evening and signed by the governor Friday. Shibler said that Rockford already implemented $2.1 million in cuts in anticipation of the funding freeze districts across the state were expecting. In last week’s Squire, Shibler said an earlier proposed $218 cut per student would be catastrophic for our state’s education system. “The spin lawmakers are putting on this is that we only cut $165. It could have been $218,” he said. Shibler said the cut comes three months into the district’s fiscal year, which runs June to July. “It will have to be personnel and programs,” he said of an additional $1.7 million he is now forced to trim from the district’s budget. Shibler said he and financial analysts, such as those at the University of Michigan and the Citizen’s Research Council have been saying for years that school funding is flawed. “There is a structural deficit in the School Aid Fund. You don’t save it by making cuts,” he stated. “The state legislature has come up with one-time fixes year after year to get schools money. It’s over. There are no more one-time fixes.” Shibler praised Rockford Representative Tom Pearce, who was one of very few who did not vote for the cuts. Pearce explained his stance. “I still feel there are sources within our current revenues that this could be done without needing to raise any new taxes or fees for this school year. I also feel that if we are going to make any cut to the School Aid budget it needs to be accompanied by cost saving reforms,” Pearce said. “The reason I was unable to support the final package is because it represented cuts without the reforms I felt should be there.” Senator Mark Jansen voted for the cuts. He said many districts took an earlier proposal of $110 per student cut that did not pass and built their budgets with that in mind. He also said the difference between the proposed $218 cut and […]