Over recent months, many of you have asked about the financial challenges Utica Community Schools continues to face.
The district has a proud history of receiving positive annual audits from Plante Moran, one of the most reputable independent auditing firms in the country.
Yet factors beyond our control are contributing to a worsening financial picture for the district. These factors include such things as declining enrollment, funding at a level less than the 2008-2009 school year, and receiving $318 per pupil less in revenue growth – or $8.8 million less in annual funding – than base foundation districts. 1,2
Recently, a statewide Michigan Education Finance Study found that Michigan schools are severely underfunded.3 The study found the base foundation amount and school funding formula are unequal.
It is time that we as a community acknowledge that the system for funding our schools needs to be changed.
If “UCS” is to continue meaning “success,” the district must keep ahead of our growing needs and we must demand better of our state lawmakers. We also have to realize that more layoffs, closures and cuts will not help us continue the level of achievement and success our families demand and deserve.
The true value of a UCS education will last a lifetime. Our schools prepare students for college and their careers which enables them to be well-rounded, productive citizens and responsible contributors to society.
I believe it is time for all of us to get involved. Call your policymakers in Lansing. Tell them it’s time to have a real conversation about the cost of educating our children – and the cost if we do not.
1 Budget Briefing, House Fiscal Agency, August 2016.
2 House Fiscal Agency Memorandum, Feb. 2016.
3 French, Ron, and Mike Wilkinson. “State Education Proposal Would Add $1.4 Billion to School Budget.” Bridge Michigan, The Center for Michigan, 12 July 2016. Web. 30 Aug. 2016.