Presque Isle County's three school districts are among those to receive an additional $120 per pupil, assuming a deal reached in the state legislature makes it into the 2013 budget.
The Associated Press reports an agreement by lawmakers to give a bump in funding to districts getting the minimum per-pupil amount of $6,846. Districts getting more than this amount won't see an increase under the current proposal. While not final, superintendents from Onaway, Posen and Rogers City schools are hopeful to see the money.
As grateful as they would be for an extra $120 per pupil, all three superintendents were quick to point out that it shouldn't be considered an increase.
"They took (more than) $450 away two years ago, so this is a quarter of that," Katie Makowski, Rogers City Area Schools superintendent, said.
She said she's aware of three proposals for state education aid, and the district is anticipating more funding than last year's from one of the three.
"We will hopefully be able to maintain all of our programs from last year, and hopefully hire a teacher to help with middle and high school class sizes," she said.
All of this is assuming the district gets the money and gives no raises to its current teaching staff. District officials currently are negotiating with teachers over their contracts.
Dru Milliron, Posen Consolidated Schools superintendent, also was less than ecstatic, he said.
"I believe the government is going to make it sound like an increase because they have to appease the public, but if you look at it, they've taken $470 away, and this is just beginning to replace that," he said. "So it's not an increase if you look at it."
Still, it's better than a decrease, he said.
"It's a step in the right direction," he said, adding his district has no specific plans for the money, should they get it.
Superintendent Rod Fullerton isn't even sure if his district would qualify for the full $120 per pupil, he said. Assuming it does, that would mean an extra $79,000, roughly.
"It's not even making up to where we were," he said.
Instead, the extra money would offset increasing costs.
One cost set to increase is retirement, Makowski said. Currently, her district pays an amount equal to 27 percent of its payroll into the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. Makowski has heard this could go up to 31 percent.
Schools received some money for the 2011-12 school year to offset retirement cost increases, Makowski said. This is set to continue this year, with $155 million going to schools for this purpose.
Ideally, Makowski and Milliron would like to see funding restored to where it was before the $470-per-pupil cut, they said.
"That'd get us back to an even mark, and then increases from there on out," Milliron said.
Makowski echoed the sentiments of Milliron and Fullerton, saying the results of these proposals remain to be seen.
"It's really interesting," she said. "There are so many things out there, I'm not going to place my bets on anything."
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.