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State Board of Education tries to make school funding a central election issue

Thomas Favre-Bulle
The debate over school funding is ramping up.

The Michigan State Board of Education hopes public school funding will be a top priority for voters when they head to the polls in November.

The board on Tuesday kicked off a series of discussions meant to publicly critique the way the state pays for public education. The talks will continue at its monthly meetings until November.

Board of Education President John Austin says one of the goals is to shed light on the issue between now and the election.

“We’ve seen a significant diminishment in both the public (will) - and I assume that explains the political will - to undergird and invest and support great education in Michigan over the last dozen years,” said Austin. “We need to help educate ourselves and the public about both how we can do better and the order of magnitude in terms of resources – but also, as importantly, where we put resources – to be more effective.”

Governor Rick Snyder and Republican state lawmakers say they’ve increased funding for public schools in recent years. But much of that new money has had to go to teacher retirement.

Democrats and many school groups say money going to classrooms has actually dropped significantly.

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