Michigan gov. ties school cash to scores

Instead, money would be awarded to districts that show students learning on a variety of levels, from 3rd- through 8th-graders who have learned a year’s worth of material in math or reading to high school students who have acquired above-average knowledge in several subjects over a four-year period.

The system is intended to reward districts for results, even if their students aren’t getting top scores.

“If it’s an 8th-grader who’s reading at 2nd-grade (level) … and he moves to 3rd-grade level, you’re OK,” Snyder senior adviser William Rustem told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We’re looking for a year’s growth in a year’s time.”

Districts also would get $179 million toward teacher pension costs, similar to the help they got this year, and could win a share of $10 million in state grants for consolidating services.

Overall, school districts would see $113 million more than they’re getting this year, when they took a 2 percent cut, and could qualify for up to $175 more per student above the foundation allowance, which starts at $6,846 per pupil. Every district would share in $8.7 billion in per-pupil funding, while districts that show student growth would get part of a $70 million pool and those who took the other steps Snyder wants would split $120 million more.

The governor also wants to put $115 million into early childhood education and use part of the budget surplus to add $12.5 million to this year’s early childhood spending.

Universities would get 3 percent more if they hold 2012-13 tuition increases to 4 percent or less and raise the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded, the number of degrees earned in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math and the number of low-income students receiving Pell Grants who graduate. Snyder also wants to increase community college funding by 3 percent, with the money distributed based on the number of certificates and associate’s degrees earned in fields that are in demand.

Universities saw their funding cut 15 percent this year, leading most to increase tuition nearly 7 percent.

Besides the 2012-13 spending plan, the governor also will propose a tentative budget for the year after and a supplemental budget for the current year. The budget would keep spending increases tight, relying on a one-time $728 million surplus left over from last budget year and $623 million in new ongoing revenue to be spread over the next two fiscal years.

The governor plans to answer citizens’ questions during an hour-long online town hall meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the Rick Snyder for Michigan Facebook page.

Unlike last year, when Snyder’s proposal included a significant business tax decrease and a matching increase in the amount retirees and others would have to pay in individual income tax increases, this year’s proposal doesn’t include any changes in tax policy.

His public safety proposal includes a 16 percent increase in the Michigan State Police budget (about $43 million), a summer jobs program for inner-city youths, more help getting work for chronically unemployed workers such as those with prison records and upgrades for police video equipment and computers. He also will include money to increase state police patrols in cooperation with local governments that may have had to lay off law enforcement officers because of budget shortages and proposes hiring about 20 more employees for state forensic laboratories.

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