State to increase budget for education

MECOSTA COUNTY – Schools and colleges in Mecosta and Osceola counties may be getting a boost in funding according to the proposed Michigan budget for 2017.

School systems, community colleges and universities across the state are projected to see increases in their revenue and local area learning institutions are no exception.

“Our dollars are going to be moving from $7,391 per student up to $7,511 per student, and that’s for all school districts,” said Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac. “Included are Crossroads Charter Academy, as well as Morley Stanwood Community Schools, and the Big Rapids Public Schools in Mecosta County; Reed City schools, as well as Evart, Marion, and Pine River in Osceola will see the increases per student.”

Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District superintendent Curtis Finch said he’s glad to see districts outside of Detroit and Flint getting a boost to their budgets.

“Even though Flint and Detroit are sucking up all of the oxygen in Lansing, it’s good to see there’s some concern for rural Michigan,” said Finch. “It’ll help rural districts, which tend to be lower funded.”

Reed City would be looking at a revenue increase of about $186,000 if the state passes the budget as proposed.

“The proposed budget looks promising, if it actually comes through,” said Reed City Area Schools superintendent Tim Webster.

Big Rapids Public Schools superintendent Tim Haist said he’s glad to see local representatives fighting for rural school districts in Lansing.

“We’re expected to have the same outcomes according to the state as better-funded school districts, but we don’t have the same funding as larger districts,” said Haist. “This increase will bring us closer to a more even playing field with better funding per student.”

Community colleges and universities also are projected to see increases in funding. Mid Michigan Community College and Montcalm Community College will see a 3.4 percent and 3.8 percent increase in revenue respectively. Ferris State University also is expected to see a 5.6 percent increase in funding according to the proposed state budget.

“The increase to Ferris State University is very favorable, especially in comparison to some of the other state universities,” said Potvin.

Additionally, $2 million more will be made available to students through the Tuition Incentive Program. TIP is made available to qualifying students from low-income families who complete high school as way for students to earn two-year and four-year degrees from Michigan colleges and universities. To qualify, students must fill out a Federal Application for Student Aid before graduating high school.

TIP has two phases for students. Phase one covers tuition and fees for students pursuing an associate degree at a participating college. Phase two provides up to $2,000 tuition assistance to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a participating university.

For more information on TIP eligibility, see the MI Student Aid website at