Cost of education: Independent group studies state school financing

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette George Stockero, far right, discusses the School Finance Research Collaborative to board members during Tuesday’s regular monthiy Board meeting.

HANCOCK — The School Finance Research Collaborative was the topic of a presentation by Copper Country Intermediate School District Superintendent George Stockero at Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

The SFRC is a broad-based, statewide, bipartisan collaborative committed to completing the research necessary to support school refinance reform. One of the issues the study is looking at is the fact that the cost of educating a student in the state is simply not known.

Stockero said two years ago, the Michigan legislature funded a similar study, but upon its completion it was rejected.

“One of the things they said was ‘you didn’t do enough different methodologies,'” Stockero told the Board. “The Kellogg Foundation put a nice chunk of money down to get this started, and others are joining in to say ‘the state didn’t like it, so let’s use more methodologies and try to do a good study.”

The Kellogg grant supported the establishment of the SFRC, but additional funding is needed to complete the research and associated communications. The funding is being sought from the foundation community.

The Board passed a resolution in support of the research and also to contribute 40 cents for every student within the Copper Country, which amounts to just over $2,700, based on 6,754 students. Stockero told the board he believes all ISDs in the state have either done so, or are planning to make the same donation of 40 cents per student.

“We want to take into affect, what does it cost to educate a student?” Stockero said. “What does it cost for a special-ed student? What’s it cost when you’re isolated, and in the U.P. we’re very isolated. There’s a lot of cost in that also.”

The SFRC is a diverse, 22-member group consisting of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula, the mission, it stats, is it’s time to change the way Michigan funds public schools.

“As a group in the whole state of Michigan,” Stockero said, “we want to back this, and hopefully it will help us go on from there.”

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