The MASB Board of Directors approved the following priorities for the 2023-2024 legislative session. These priorities will guide the work of the Government Relations staff. If you have any questions about the priorities, please contact Jennifer Smith, Director of Government Relations:
Increase mental health services and professionals in schools and provide adequate state resources for needed social-emotional support.
School psychologists, social workers and counselors are critical supports for students and staff in our schools. These mental health professionals can support our teachers and aid students who are struggling emotionally or are troubled. Giving students the proper supports early on can help them perform better academically and possibly prevent tragic events from taking place. The state should give districts the proper resources to increase the ratio of mental health professionals to students.
Implement state-based programs and modify certification requirements to address teacher shortages and retain teachers.
The teacher shortage is an ongoing issue. Michigan should support and create programs to encourage people to become teachers and stay in the classroom. Teacher cadet and home-grown teacher programs should be encouraged and supported across the state. Adjustments to certification requirements including allowing for state reciprocity and professionals to be able to obtain a teacher certification more easily should be considered. Also, state support to increase pay and benefits as well as reduce sit-out time for retirees should all be part of the conversation.
Establish school safety funding as a permanent line item in the budget and available to all districts equitably.
The 2022-2023 Fiscal Year budget includes a line item dedicated to school safety. It is designed for districts to use the grant money as they see fit to increase the security of their buildings. That could mean infrastructure improvements, school resource officers, technology upgrades and/or training. However, it is distributed on a competitive grant basis. Instead, this funding should be distributed equitably to all districts and included in each state budget to assist districts in keeping our students, staff and school community safe.
Review and implement recommendations of the School Finance Research Collaborative to move toward more equitable funding for students.
We know that each child comes to school at a different level of preparedness and needs. Each variation comes with a different expenditure, yet we provide revenue at a fixed amount. We must examine the costs of delivering education and adjust our school funding system accordingly. We must also examine the distribution system and consider issues such as transportation costs, special education funding, career and technical programs, and the unique challenges of small and rural districts.
Specify that the School Aid Fund is only for PreK to 12th grade public education in Michigan’s Constitution. Also, oppose any attempts to create private school voucher or tax credit programs.
School Aid Fund dollars have been redirected to higher education and community colleges for a decade. The 2021-2022 Fiscal Year alone resulted in more than $790 million not being available for our public schools. We must protect the integrity of the School Aid Fund by making sure it is only used for PreK to 12th grade public education.
Reduce the MPSERS legacy cost burden on districts and continue to increase state support of paying down debt to reach the target before 2038.
School districts in Michigan are paying more than 30% of their total payroll costs back to the state for the Michigan Public School Retirement System. Much of that money is to continue to pay down the unfunded accrued liabilities in the system. By paying off that debt faster and with increased state support, more funding would be available to be used in the classroom and for direct support to students.
Establish universal preschool for all 4-year-old children.
Reaching children at a younger age increases a child’s achievement levels and reduces future remedial costs for school districts. Michigan currently does not fund slots for every 4-year-old child to participate in a preschool program. Funding should be increased to give universal access to all 4-year-olds and support the related infrastructure needs.
Support legislation that will put public school academies and management companies on equal footing with traditional public schools on issues related to transparency, reporting and treatment of employees.
Billions of dollars each year are spent on public education in Michigan. Whether that money is sent to a traditional public school, a charter school or a cyber school, the public should be able to see how those dollars are spent. No school, including traditional public schools, should be able to hire a management company that does not provide transparency regarding expenditures of public funds that are fundamental to the operations of a school district.
Expand the federal free and reduced lunch and breakfast programs to all students, regardless of income status.
During the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expanded the free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs to all students regardless of income. This expansion benefited students by providing meals to those families who hadn’t filed paperwork
or who were just over the qualifications. It also lessened the paperwork burden on our districts. This program should be available to all students on a permanent basis to support proper nutrition and learning.