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Biggest Increase in Per-Pupil Funding Help School Districts Start the Year Strong

This year, schools will get one of the most significant increases in funding through the bipartisan education budget.

For the 2023 fiscal year, per-pupil spending is at an all-time high, jumping from $8,700 to $9,150.

Dr. John VanWagoner, Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent, says their budget is 85% to 90% salaries and benefits. The extra money will help retain and recruit staff.

“It helps us compete with the private sector, especially for mental health workers, social workers, psychologists, those elements that maybe work in hospitals. It’s tough to sometimes compete with their wages, but this helps us a little bit,” said Dr. VanWagoner.

For Reed City Area Public Schools, the extra funding will help continue funding their social, emotional and wellness coach, and will bring in new opportunities.

“We are working on building more music, band, drama, and art programs,” said Mike Sweet, Superintendent for Reed City Area Public Schools.

Due to inflation, even with one of the biggest educational budgets, the money doesn’t go as far.

“Fuel, probably diesel fuel is one of the biggest things we are seeing an increase on,” said Sweet.

“Food costs, supplies, paper, everything in our district that it takes that we buy every day it costs more,” said Dr. VanWagoner.

But any extra money for districts is a step towards a brighter school year.

“For the most part, we do have more money, especially in the areas of school safety and mental health,” said Dr. VanWagoner.

“It’s important to invest in schools because I want those kids to contribute to society. If we don’t help prepare them right now, they won’t be,” explained Sweet.