Michigan increases special education funding by $312M in new

Michigan’s budget, passed early Friday, includes a major overhaul of how the state funds special education, a change lawmakers said is meant to stem chronic underfunding of special education services. 

For years, school leaders have said underfunding of special education led them to take money away from their general education budget to cover special education costs. A 2017 report commissioned by then-Lt. Gov. Brian Calley found that special education was underfunded by $700 million. 

This budget allocates a total of $1.9 billion for special education, an increase of $312 million from last year.

Erik Edoff, superintendent of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools, said the change helps address the shortfall identified in the 2017 report.

“It’s a significant step in the direction of equalizing support for special education students,” he said. “We’re really appreciative.” 

State Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, helped craft the plan.

He said Thursday night that this is one of the biggest changes for school finance in Michigan since voters approved Proposal A in 1994, which completely changed how the state funds public schools.

“It’s a very big deal,” he said.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, wrote in an email to the Free Press that he hopes this overhaul will last, and that state leaders will eventually fully fund special education services.