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School Funding Information
School Funding Information

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This page contains information regarding the impact the current school funding formula is having on Utica Community Schools. 

Below is a short list of questions and answers regarding school funding and Utica Community Schools. At the right is a series of links regarding this issue. 

Questions and Answers 
1) What is the financial issue facing Utica Community Schools? 

The redirection of school aid away from UCS has created underfunding for the district.  This issue has been compounded by declining enrollment.

Over the past ten years, the UCS foundation allowance has increased only $87 – or an average $8.70 per year. This is an approximately one percent per-pupil growth and well below inflation. Over that period of time, the Consumer Price Index (inflation) rose by nearly 20 percent. At the same time, the needs of students have changed, such as students with disabilities.

The reality is that the district must close the gap between expenditures and revenues.

2) I recently read a report on a study regarding underfunding of special education costs by the State of Michigan. How does that impact UCS?

Special education services legally required to meet State and Federal mandates were underfunded by $18.4 million in 2016-2017.  The shortfall in funding these programs comes from general fund operating dollars.

3) How does student enrollment impact revenue?   
The district’s overall funding is directly linked to total enrollment of students. Simply stated, the foundation allowance X student enrollment = state funding.  

4) What has UCS done to address declining enrollment and declining revenue? 
As enrollment has declined due to a declining birth rate, UCS has worked to offset related revenue loss with Schools of Choice.  In 2016-2017, Schools of Choice participation generated $16 million in revenue.  As a public school district, UCS cannot generate additional revenue for operating purposes through a millage or tax increase.

5) With all of the new houses being built, why is enrollment declining? 
New housing will not offset the impact of fewer births and an aging population in the district.  A recent report from regional planning agency Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) indicates that falling birth rates will reduce the number of school-age children in Southeast Michigan by 13 percent from 2010 to 2020.  

6) Why do state lawmakers have the responsibility for determining how much revenue goes to school districts? 
Your property taxes go directly to the State of Michigan, not UCS. The state collects property and other taxes to support the school aid fund and redistributes these dollars to Michigan school districts.  This process was established when voters approved Proposal A in 1994.  In other words, school districts are financially dependent on the state for funding. 
7)  Why is there such funding disparity between districts? 
The differences in per pupil funding have their roots in the funding levels that existed prior to the implementation of Proposal A in 1994. Communities that had a higher tax base and voter approved millage rate had greater revenue for each student. Proposal A locked school districts into their relative positions and local Boards of Education and school districts have no ability to change their funding level.  
8) What is the current funding method for school districts? 
School districts receive a state set foundation allowance for each student.  Currently, Michigan lawmakers also use what is referred to as a “2x formula.” In recent years, this formula along with equity payments have been used by state lawmakers to close the gap between lower-funded school districts – or those at minimum foundation levels – and those who receive more per pupil.  The 2x formula and equity payments have redirected funding increases to the minimum foundation level school districts. 

For example, base foundation districts - or lower funded, minimum foundation districts - have received up to seven times more in revenue growth than UCS. 

9) Compared to other school districts, what is UCS per pupil funding?  
Per pupil school funding in Michigan ranges from a maximum (hold harmless) of $15,676 to the minimum foundation level of $7,631. Currently, the UCS per pupil foundation allowance is $7,796. By comparison, UCS is one of 92 school districts funded slightly above the minimum level and below the maximum level. There are a total of 839 school districts and public school academies (charter schools) in the state.  

10) How has the district addressed its financial challenges? 
Utica Community Schools has addressed its financial challenges through cost containment, reductions and a strategic use of its Fund Equity. Over the past 14 years, the district has made $123 million in reductions, including employee concessions, elimination of services, closing four elementary schools and the elimination of approximately 930 FTE staff positions. Additionally, employees are contributing to their own healthcare and retirement. 
A complete list of UCS reductions is available through a link at the right side of this page.  

12) What is the resolution for the school funding issue? 
UCS will continue to be cost effective through cost containment and reduction efforts.  Without additional revenue it will be very difficult to balance the budget.  The reality is that the district will not be able to cut its way to prosperity. 

13) We approved a bond issue in 2009. Can those funds be used to cover operating costs? 
No. By law, bond funds may only be used for voter approved purposes for infrastructure improvements - such as roofs, boilers, flooring and technology.  It is against the law to use bond funds for day-to-day operations such as utilities, curriculum materials or salaries.  

14) How can I get more information? 
Please e-mail

The School Finance Research Collaborative

Board of Education School Funding Resolution

Utica Community Schools 2017-2018 Budget Adoption

 January 9 Board of Education Presentation

Presentation Materials

Community Voices


Related Articles

Contact Information - State Lawmakers

Guidelines on writing state lawmakers

Michigan Senate - UCS Area

Senate District 8 
(Shelby Township, Washington Township, Bruce Township)
Sen. Jack Brandenburg 

Senate District 10 
(Sterling Heights, Macomb Township)
Sen. Tory Rocca 

Michigan House of Representatives - UCS Area

House District 25
Rep. Henry Yanez
(east side of Sterling Heights)

House District 30
Rep Diana Farrington
(west side of Sterling Heights, Utica, portion of Shelby Twp.)

House District 36
Rep. Peter Lucido
(Portion of Shelby Township, Washington Township, Bruce Township)

House District 33
Jeff Yaroch
(Macomb Township)

State of Michigan Leadership

Rick Snyder

Michigan Senate

 Senate Majority Leader
30th District
Senator Arlan Meekhof
(Ottawa County)

Senate Minority Leader
27th District 
Senator Jim Ananich
(Genesse County)

Senate Education Chair
25th District
Phil Pavlov, State Senator
(Huron, St. Clair, Sanilac and portion of Macomb County) 

Senate Appropriations
29th Senate District
Dave Hildenbrand
(Kent County)

House of Representatives

Speaker of the House
93rd District

Senator Tom Leonard
(Ottawa County)

Democratic Leader
69th District 

Rep Sam Singh
(Clinton and Gratiot Counties)

House Appropriations Chair
19th District
Laura Cox

House Education Chair
94th District
Tim Kelly