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2021-22 State Budget Helps Support Goals in State Strategic Education Plan

LANSING – The recently completed state budget strongly supports the goals and mission of the state’s Top 10 strategic education plan, according to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

Both the state school aid budget signed into law in July and the remainder of the state budget signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer today make important investments in many of the goals in the state’s strategic education plan, which was adopted by the State Board of Education in August of 2020.

“I appreciate the state legislature and Governor Whitmer working together to build a state budget addressing many of the primary needs of our children and our state,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Common values bring about common solutions that can result in improved outcomes.”

Here are the Top 10 strategic education plan goals supported by this year’s state budget:

Provide adequate and equitable school funding (Goal 8 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
An historic $17.1 billion school aid fund budget was passed that closes the K-12 per-pupil funding gap. The budget increases the foundation allowance in the state to $8,700 per pupil.

In addition, the budget increases by $30 million payments to districts and ISDs for reimbursement costs associated with providing special education services required under state and federal law; by $30 million for special education non-mandated additional reimbursements; and by $3 million for a special education learning library.

"Along with the federal pandemic funds, the additional state funds represent significant progress in school funding,” Dr. Rice said. "That said, we still have more work to do as a state to adequately and equitably fund public schools and to meet the education needs of all our learners."

Expand early childhood learning opportunities (Goal 1 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
Michigan’s highly acclaimed Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) received an increase of $168 million in federal pandemic relief and state funds to allow for the expansion of preschool to all eligible children over the next three years.

“Michigan’s GSRP program is first nationally in early childhood education quality, but only 21st in access,” Dr. Rice said. “Our success in expanding GSRP not only can make us a top state in early childhood access but can also help us enormously to improve literacy outcomes, broader academic outcomes, and life outcomes for our students.”

The Childcare Development and Care (CDC) program was funded at $1.5 billion for childcare investments through fiscal year (FY) 2022-23. The state budget increases the entrance income eligibility threshold to 185% of poverty for FY 2021-22 and 2022-23; increases provider reimbursement rates by 30% for FY 2021-22 and 2022-23; pays providers based on enrollment for FY 2021-22 and 2022-23; provides technical and/or financial support to new or expanding childcare providers; waives family contribution co-pays for the CDC program of FY 2022-23; and allows MDE to contract with childcare providers for infant and toddler slots.

Federal CDC funds will provide for and expand quality childcare based on the state’s Great Start to Quality system. A child being cared for by a licensed provider in this system will have access to nutritional meals and trained caregivers with a small adult-to-child ratio that will contribute to the child’s readiness for school regardless of the age of the child.

Funding for the EarlyOn program, which serves children with developmental delays from 0-3, increased from $7.5 million to $14.5 million.

Improve early literacy achievement (Goal 2 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
This budget retains existing early literacy programming and adds $4 million and substantive changes to focus on professional development for early literacy teachers and coaches. The funding will provide LETRS training to pre-K-3 teachers where preference is given to pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade teachers. This professional learning will provide educators with a system of training and knowledge base to effectively implement any classroom-wide, supplemental, or intervention reading approach and help determine why some students struggle with reading, writing, spelling, and language.

Improve the health, safety, and wellness of all learners (Goal 3 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
To protect the health, safety, and wellness of all learners, the state budget appropriates $240 million to help districts hire school counselors, psychologists, social workers, and nurses; funds before- and after-school programs with $5 million through a competitive grant program to community-based organizations for in-person programs; increases the statewide 10 Cents a Meal program by $2.5 million for a total of $5 million; provides $694,400 for school lunch and $7.4 million for school breakfast programs; and includes $1.5 million for child dental screenings to be added to the vision and hearing screenings that are led by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Increase the number of certified teachers in areas of shortage (Goal 7 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
MDE’s efforts to help districts address the teacher shortage were aided with the appropriation of $1.67 million to assist local school districts with Grow Your Own programs to help school support staff to explore careers in teaching. 

Districts may help a support staff member employed in pre-K–12 settings working toward certification or additional endorsements by providing program tuition, program fees, testing fees and substitute permit costs. 

Additionally, the funds can be used for hands-on learning experiences for students in grades 6-12 interested in the field of education, with supervision and mentoring for educators who are champions of, and committed to, the success of the program.

The budget also appropriates $280,000 to waive fees/costs for former teachers with expired licenses.

Increase the percentage of adults with a post-secondary credential (Goal 6 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
The FY 2021-22 state budget continues to support the MI Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs. MI Reconnect provides a last-dollar scholarship to individuals over the age of 25 with a high school diploma seeking an associate degree or Pell-eligible skill certificate. Futures for Frontliners is similar to MI Reconnect, but has no age criteria, and applies to those who worked through the first months of the pandemic and meet the criteria as a frontline workers.

Expand secondary learning opportunities for all students (Goal 4 of Michigan’s Strategic Education Plan)
This upcoming year’s state budget allots $37.6 million in career and technical education (CTE) added-cost funding to provide partial reimbursement to school districts for the extra costs associated with the operation of a state approved programs; $8 million to support CTE early middle college and CTE dual enrollment programs; $7.5 million in new funding for CTE equipment grants; $2.5 million for CTE programming at COOR intermediate school district (ISD) and funding increases for robotics programs at public schools of $323,200 and at nonpublic schools of $300,000.

The budget provides $6 million for PRIME schools to build customized hands-on manufacturing and engineering programs inside high schools, providing students and teachers with equipment, curriculum and certifications, professional development, STEM-related extracurricular activities, scholarships, and sustainability funding. Currently, there are 63 PRIME schools in 22 states, including 17 in Michigan. The funding will nearly double the number of Michigan schools participating in this unique partnership-driven initiative that prepares high school students for career opportunities in their respective communities. 

Project SEARCH, a transition program for young adults with disabilities aimed at helping them to develop skills to become employed was funded at $1.5 million.

Also funded is $1.2 million to cover all or part of the costs of advanced placement test fees or international baccalaureate test fees and international baccalaureate registration fees for low-income students who take an advanced placement or an international baccalaureate test and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) fees for low-income pupils who take a CLEP tests. CLEP is a group of standardized tests created and administered by the College Board to assess college-level knowledge in 36 subject areas and provide a mechanism for earning college credits without taking college courses.

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