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Whitmer Education Budget Proposal Would Have Major Impact on Teacher Shortages In Michigan

LANSING - Governor Gretchen Whitmer's pre-K-12 budget proposes historic investments in school funding and would have a major impact on the shortage of teachers in Michigan public schools.

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice applauded the broad strokes of Whitmer's recently unveiled 2023 state budget and the budget's proposed spending on pre-K-12 education, including a five-percent increase in the per-pupil grants to school districts, investments to recruit future educators, and incentive bonuses for current educators.

"This is a great education budget," Dr. Rice said of the governor's proposal. "The plan associated with recruitment and retention efforts is very strong. The retention bonuses would help retain teachers and support staff-a very persistent challenge in Michigan public schools. The recruitment investments would help districts develop grow-your-own programs to help support staff become teachers, inspire students to join the education profession, and provide scholarships for future educators and stipends for student teachers.

"This budget would help advance every single goal of the state's Top 10 state strategic education plan and, in so doing, would improve the lives of our more than 1.4 million Michigan public school children," Dr. Rice said.

The governor's recommended budget includes total funding of $18.4 billion in fiscal year 2023, with a $435 per pupil increase in the state aid foundation allowance to $9,135 per pupil, a five-percent increase or an additional $580 million for school districts.

"I applaud the governor for making public education a top priority in this budget proposal," said State Board of Education President Dr. Casandra Ulbrich. "These investments will have a lasting impact on schools in Michigan."

Whitmer's budget recommendation, presented to the state legislature this morning by State Budget Director Chris Harkins, promotes a $1.7 billion investment in educator retention programs and $600 million for educator recruitment programs.

The retention programs include $1.5 billion for bonuses to educators who agree to continue working in their school districts over the next four years; $50 million annually for teacher onboarding and mentoring programs; and $75 million for innovative approaches to addressing regional educator needs.

The $600 million targeted for recruitment programs would help strengthen the teacher talent pipeline in Michigan. Scholarships for future educators, stipends for student teachers, and expansions in the grow-your-own programs of local districts highlight the teacher recruitment investments proposed by the governor.

"The governor's proposed investment of over $360 million in school-based mental and physical health supports and the creation of a $1 billion school infrastructure fund of which $170 million would be available for school infrastructure grants starting next year would help address many pressing needs facing our students and educators," said State Board of Education Vice President Dr. Pamela Pugh. "This bold action lays the necessary foundation for the support that our children and educators deserve."

The governor's budget recommendation reflects many of the strategic investment strategies that Dr. Rice sent to the state legislature in November to address the state's teacher shortage.

"There is increasing awareness of the enormous effect that the teacher shortage, exacerbated but not caused by the pandemic, has had on our public schools," Dr. Rice said. "Our needs are urgent, and we are encouraging the legislature to accelerate this funding through a supplemental budget passed by the start of spring to give local school districts the time to begin to implement these efforts before the start of next school year."

The governor's budget also recommends significant funding increases for pre-school and after-school programs, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, English learners, and career and technical education.  Children's mental health and school safety would also receive significant increases under this budget, and school infrastructure is substantially addressed.

"The additional funding is substantial and important to meet the needs of Michigan public school children," concluded Dr. Rice. 

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