2014-05-01 / News

Majority of voters support new ‘Classrooms and Kids’ proposal

Plan would increase local control, funding

LANSING – Three-quarters of Michigan voters support the “Classrooms and Kids” proposal that would redirect more money into classrooms and preserve local control, a new poll released shows.

The Glengariff Group poll comes as the Michigan Legislature considers at least four school funding proposals: One from Gov. Rick Snyder, two from legislators and the “Classrooms and Kids” plan, which is the only proposal developed and supported by educators statewide, including superintendents, principals, local school boards and others.

“For years, Michigan schools have struggled with reduced funding and budget cuts, and the ‘Classrooms and Kids’ plan will help us stabilize class sizes, hire more teachers and staff, and protect programs like sports and music – without raising taxes,” said Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois. “Michigan voters see firsthand what’s happening in our communities, and that’s why they support ‘Classrooms and Kids.’ We urge policymakers to do the same.”

The “Classrooms and Kids” proposal provides a $250-$291 increase in per-pupil funding by eliminating $186 million in spending for special pots of money that are unstable and cannot be used for improvement for ongoing school programs. “Classrooms and Kids” instead redirects that money to local schools so they can better decide where the funds go. As a result, this proposal provides more funds than others from Snyder, the Senate and the House, without increasing taxes.

“The ‘Classrooms and Kids’ plan is about preserving local control of our schools’ money by giving local communities the flexibility they need, and voters understand that,” said Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch. “Local school leaders and parents are better prepared to make the right decisions about how to spend money for our kids’ education.”

“’Classrooms and Kids’ ensures the $186 million that would otherwise be spent on special pots of money for some schools but not for others is instead spent evenly among all schools – and voters like the idea of treating all schools fairly and evenly,” said Livonia Public Schools Superintendent Randy Liepa. “’Classrooms and Kids’ is a win-win. By streamlining the budget, we can send an additional $250 per student right into their classrooms, where the money is needed most.”

Other highlights of the poll:

• Voters from every political background support “Classrooms and Kids,” including 62 percent of voters who identified themselves as strong Republicans and 69 percent of independents.

• Nearly 80 percent of voters trust local school leaders to make decisions and hold schools accountable, more than they do elected officials in Lansing.

• Nearly 74 percent say school accountability should be driven at the local level, not through the K-12 funding process at the state level.

• More than 69 percent say Michigan needs to spend more money on schools – including even increasing the $250-per-pupil in the “Classrooms and Kids” plan.

When voters were given more details about the “Classrooms and Kids” proposal, support actually increased from the initial 67.5 percent to 75.4 percent – including support from 69.4 percent of voters who identified themselves as strong Republicans, 73.5 percent independents and 82.7 percent strong Democrats.

The April 12-14 poll of 600 registered voters has a margin of error of four percentage points and 30 percent of interviews were conducted on cell phones. The poll was paid for by the “Classrooms and Kids” coalition, a diverse group of frontline educators, superintendents and administrators.

On Feb. 27, Michigan’s education community submitted a letter of support for the “Classrooms and Kids” plan to the Legislature and Snyder, signed by groups including the including the Michigan Association of School Boards, the Michigan Association of School Administrators, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education and others. Since then, the plan has been endorsed by local education groups and individual school boards across the state.

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