HOLLAND – U.S. MP Bill Huizenga is pushing for the federal government to allow Michigan to use its federal coronavirus funds to fill a funding gap per student, something targeted by the school aid budget previously agreed by lawmaker and Governor Gretchen Whitmer for the year.
Huizenga, R-Zeeland, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Sept. 24, calling on the Department of Education to allow Michigan to use the funds allocated for school aid in the 2021-22 budget year to help fill funding gaps between affluent counties of the state to close and those with higher poverty rates.
In the school aid budget signed by Whitmer in July, the state will use most of the aid money to redirect districts with more poverty-stricken students. Legislators also allocate approximately $ 362 million to districts with lower poverty rates to ensure that no district receives less than $ 1,093 per student through the ESSER III funding mechanism.
At that time politicians from both major parties and advocates of education applauded the budget to resolve funding differences. But an interpretation by the federal government could endanger the budgets of some districts.
According to Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, the state’s Department of Education was informed by federal agencies that federal law does not allow the grant because coronavirus remedies were targeted at counties with more lower-income students.
In Huizenga’s letter, he argued that the interpretation would result in West Michigan counties losing the funds administrators have already planned for the 2021-22 school year.
“I am writing today to highlight a very serious flaw in the formula for the distribution of educational grants,” Huizenga wrote. “Public education leaders in our state have repeatedly pointed out that Title 1A’s formula, used to distribute funds, has created massive disparities between districts in Michigan.
“… It is critical that all underserved and low-income communities across the state have access to resources to manage the costs associated with the pandemic. While the districts with the highest numbers of underprivileged students must be a priority, Michigans must Compensation plans for their share of federal funding would help improve the balance of resources allocated to all school districts.
“While the Department of Education is reviewing Michigan’s federal funding plan, I urge you to allow the state to move forward with its compensation component.”
Cardona visited Michigan in early September to encourage safe returns to face-to-face classes amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to education news Chalkbeat Detroit, the US Department of Education is still reviewing Michigan’s plan.