Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 12, 2013

Bill aims to give more to local schools


TRAVERSE CITY — A downstate lawmaker hopes to provide more state funding for local districts through a set of proposed legislative measures.

State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, introduced two joint resolutions and Senate Bill 119 late last month.

Joint Senate Resolution H seeks to eliminate use of the School Aid Fund for higher education and the employee retirement system.

Joint Senate Resolution I calls for equal per-pupil state funding for all public districts by 2020.

The two resolutions are an attempt to "live up" to the spirit of Proposal A, a ballot proposal approved by voters in the mid-90s which drastically overhauled the way Michigan funds its public schools, Jones said.

"The spirit of Proposal A was to fund local education, not to have funding transferred to other means," Jones said.

Both resolutions call for amendments to the state constitution on the next general election ballot.

SB 119 seeks to offset district's transportation costs for the current school year. The state would pay districts 50 cents for every mile traveled by school buses while picking up and dropping off students.

Many districts in sparsely populated rural areas incur heavy busing costs while districts in urban and suburban areas often don't spend any money on busing students to and from school.

Several states throughout the country use per-mile compensations to offset this disparity, Jones said.

The resolutions and the bill are in the Senate Appropriations Committee.