State School Aid Act Amendments

Public Act 249 of 2016 not only amended the state school aid budget and increased the pupil foundation allowance, it also appropriated funds for other school purposes and amended the State School Aid Act (SSAA) in ways that impose substantive requirements on schools. We want to highlight four important changes from PA 249.

Foundation Allowances

The State Maximum Guaranteed Foundation was increased to $8,229, and the Minimum Foundation was increased to $7,511. Despite attempts by the House, Senate, and Governor to revise the pupil mem­bership blend calculation, the law maintains the current calculation blend of 90% from the October count plus 10% of the prior February count.

Special Education Reforms

PA 249 adds Section 54b to the SSAA to allocate funds to implement the special education reform task force’s recommendations published in January 2016, including piloting the Michigan Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative in at least three inter­mediate school districts. Funds have also been allocated to provide training to schools related to the

safe implementation of emergency seclusion and re­straint. The MDE is required to develop and implement a training program based on the state board’s adopted standards and any other legislation enacted by the Legislature regarding the emergency use of seclusion and restraint.

Abortion Policy

PA 249 amends Section 166 of the SSAA to require schools to adopt and implement a disciplinary policy for violations of Section 1507 of the Revised School Code, which pertains to instruction in sex education. The policy must discipline a board member, an em­ployee, or other person who refers a pupil for an abortion or assists a pupil with obtaining an abortion. The policy must include a financial penalty against an employee who violates the policy in an amount that is not less than 3% of the employee’s annual compensa­tion (not salary), which must be refunded to the state school aid fund. If a board fails to adopt such a policy by October 1, 2019, the school will forfeit $100,000 from its state aid.

Reducing Suspensions and Expulsions

A new Section 167a encourages schools to implement a plan to reduce expulsions and suspen­sions that exceed 10 days. While the new section uses the term “encouraged,” it specifically provides that it is the Legislature’s intent that a school that does not im­plement a plan to reduce expulsions and suspensions that exceed 10 days “will be subject to a forfeiture of a portion of its total state school aid.” Therefore, schools should consider this “encouragement” to be a requirement.

School officials should take note of these changes and contact a Thrun Law Firm attorney if they have any questions.