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Flint Community Schools superintendent pushes for change in school funding formula

children sitting on floor
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez filed a formal complaint earlier this month with the Genesee Intermediate School District over special education funding.

Flint gets less money from the county compared to other districts, even though it has more kids who qualify for special education services. 

That's because the funding formula includes general student enrollment. Flint has been steadily losing students for many years.

Steven Tunnicliff is with the Genesee Intermediate School District. He says this particular funding is a small part of the bigger problem of special education funding across the state.

"This is a larger issue than just Flint Community Schools or Genesee County Schools in terms of how we fund special education in Michigan," he says. "Any change to the plan would have to be agreed upon by all of the constituent district superintendents."

Credit Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
GISD Special Education Allocation Top 5 Districts (Size) 2018-2019 School Year

Superintendent Derrick Lopez recently told Michigan Radio that students with special needs make up nearly 28% of the Flint school district. Kids at the epicenter of the city's lead-in-water crisis are now school aged, driving the increased need for special education services.

Lopez could not be reached for comment for this story.

Tunnicliff provided estimates of last school year’s special education funding for the GISD’s five largest schools, which can be viewed below: 

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MaKayla is a recent Michigan transplant hailing from Arkansas with a deep love for storytelling which has translated to a love for public radio. She loves being outdoors (and welcomes any recommendations for great hiking spots), cooking for her fiancée, and is a budding horticulturist. She is studying Mass Communication at the University of Arkansas Little Rock.
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