Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Michigan budget holds line on school funding


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LANSING — Local education officials can breathe a sigh of relief after the state budget Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed last week didn’t contain any of the funding reductions they feared.

Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District Superintendent Alan Tulppo and the superintendents of the GOISD member districts had warned a budget that included steep reductions in per-pupil funding could cripple their efforts to provide an education to students in their districts. Instead, the budget for the fiscal year that started Thursday “protects schools, colleges, universities and local governments from any state funding reductions below their original 2020 funding levels,” a statement from Whitmer’s office read.

“We were anticipating the potential of anywhere from a $400 to a $700 per-pupil reduction in funding, so (we’re) obviously relieved that didn’t happen; and happy districts have been held harmless with their per-pupil funding. It’s good news for all of us,” Tulppo said. “I’m pleased the districts are going to be getting a $65 per-pupil one-time payment this year to help with some additional expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s better than we anticipated.”

Ironwood Superintendent Travis Powell echoed Tulppo’s sentiments regarding the funding levels.

“We were bracing ourselves in a reduction in funding, and thankfully that hasn’t happened yet,” Powell said.

The budget also provides increased funding for social-emotional support for students, maintains funding for career and technical education and increases for special education reimbursements, according to Tulppo.

“That will benefit our districts as well,” he said.

Powell said district officials are still working on the details about how Ironwood can best utilize any extra funds it receives.

“Additional resources are always helpful, especially at this time during this pandemic,” Powell said.

Although he is still waiting to hear the exact amount, Tulppo said the GOISD will also be receiving funds to work with its member districts to create more robust distance learning plans.

The funding is determined based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students across the GOISD, according to Tulppo.

In a joint news release announcing that the legislature and governor had reached an agreement on the budget, state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township, and state Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock, said the budget also includes $4 million in matching funds for Houghton and Baraga counties to help the region recover from flooding in the Father’s Day 2018 storm that is needed to secure federal aid.

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