Students who have special education needs make up about 26% of the entire Genesee school district’s student body, and special education costs make up about $3.6 million of the $5.7 million projected yearly deficit, according to Flint Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez in a January editorial in MLive.
Parents and some school officials say a change in the allocation of special education dollars could benefit special ed students.
Lopez said the $3.8 million of Act 18 special education funds will be assigned to local districts based on three criteria: total number of special education students, the full-time-equivalent (FTE) number of students and the total number of all FTE students. The part-time student numbers have been factored in as well.
Residents want the formula to be based solely on the number of special education students in a district or academy.
“There are valid arguments both for and against the inclusion of” total FTE head count, associate superintendent Steven Tunnicliff said at a news conference, reported by MLive.
As it stands now, Flint Community Schools are projected to receive almost $280,000 of Act 18 funding, the fourth-highest amount for the current academic year between the 21 school districts and 14 charter schools and public school academies within the distribution pool.
If the formula was changed to include only two parts -- total special education head count and FTE special education head count, removing total FTE -- Flint schools would receive $448,000 of Act 18 dollars, an increase of $168,000.
The Genesee County Superintendents Special Education Subcommittee is expected to consider the current formula and have suggestions for the 21 superintendents, public school academies and the Parent Advisory Committee.
District superintendents would have to agree to change the GISD (Genesee Intermediate School District) Mandatory Plan in order to change the formula for Act 18 fund distribution. Any changes to the plan must be approved by the Michigan Department of Education.
Facing a massive structural deficit, the Flint school district may have to close multiple schools by the start of the next academic year.
“We go above and beyond to do our very best to meet the needs of every child in Genesee County, especially the children who need the most support inside and outside the school,” GISD Superintendent Lisa Hagel told MLive.