Per pupil funding explained

Psst, here’s something you may not know.

School funding is complicated in Michigan.

Actually, if you try to be an informed voter, you probably have already figured that out.

With the Operating Millage Renewal vote set for Feb. 27, we wanted to take a moment to try to explain the difference between what legislators set as the per pupil funding allotment each year for schools and what schools, specifically Dearborn Public Schools, actually get from the state.

For the current school year, the state set the minimum per pupil funding allotment at $9,608.  But the state only pays each district a portion of that.  

First, districts are required to collect an 18 mill Operating Millage from businesses and other non-homestead properties.  The state only pays the difference between what the district is expected to collect from the 18 mills and whatever the minimum per pupil allotment is for the year.  No 18 mill tax = funding below the base state allotment.  How much below varies greatly by district depending on their enrollment compared to their tax base.

For Dearborn this year, the state is providing $7,891 per student, and the district is collecting $1,717 per student from the 18-mill Operating Millage on non-homestead property.  Together, those bring the district up to the minimum $9,608 per student allotment.

Another $313 per student is collected from homeowners to give the district a total per pupil allotment of $9,919 this year.  Note any district that receives above the state’s minimum per pupil allotment is collecting that extra amount from local homeowners, not the state.  These districts, including Dearborn, are called Hold Harmless districts.  

The Operating Millage Renewal asks voters to reapprove both parts of the Operating Millage.  For businesses and other non-homestead properties, the tax would stay at the 18 mills the state expects every district to collect.  For homeowners, the maximum tax would fall from the 6.17 mills approved last time to a maximum of 4 mill going forward.  The exact amount homeowners pay will vary each year based on state law.  

Per pupil & the Operating Millage graphic

Operating Millage Renewal 101: State Aid and Millages animation