The second general type of state education money comprises the majority of state education dollars: foundation allowance money, which is allocated to school districts and charter schools on a per-pupil basis.[lxxx] For most school districts, the state distributes this money using a “blended count,” which in fiscal 2007 is the sum of the following: 75 percent of the number of full-time-equivalent students in attendance on the fourth Wednesday after Labor Day in September, and 25 percent of full-time-equivalent students in attendance on the supplemental count day in the previous February.[lxxxi] By using a full-time-equivalent student count, rather than a head count, the state can adjust for the percentage of time a student spends in various programs. For example, consider a student who spends 40 percent of his instructional time in a special education program and 60 percent of his time in a general education program. That student would be counted as two-fifths (0.40) of a student for purposes of distributing special education foundation allowances and three-fifths (0.60) of a student for purposes of distributing general education foundation allowances.
Take the Manistee Area Public Schools as an example. On the district’s Jan. 19, 2007, state aid financial status report[lxxxii], the Michigan Department of Education reported that the Manistee district’s “state aid membership” was 1,734.06 full-time-equivalent students, a number made up of general education students and special education students. This number was based on four figures: On the September 2006 count day, the district counted 1,697.60 FTE general education pupils and 39.72 FTE special education pupils; and on its February 2006 count day (the supplemental count day from the immediately previous school year), it recorded 1,692.87 FTE general education pupils and 31.39 FTE special education pupils. Hence, FTE general education membership was
(1,697.60 × 0.75) + (1,692.87 × 0.25) = 1,696.4175,
while FTE special education membership would be
(39.72 × 0.75) + (31.39 × 0.25) = 37.6375.
State aid membership equals the sum of these two FTE figures:
1,696.4175 + 37.6375 = 1,734.055,
or 1,734.06 FTE, since total FTE membership is rounded to the hundredths place.
[lxxx] The foundation allowance is discussed in more detail immediately below. In fiscal 2007, two major foundation allowance payments — the Proposal A obligation payment (section 22a; $6,207,000,000) and the discretionary payment (section 22b; $3,584,950,000) — together accounted for about 75 percent of the total appropriation from the school aid fund ($13,093,745,100). See “School Aid Act Compiled and Appendices,” A1-A2.
[lxxxi] For exceptions, see MCL § 388.1606(4). For example, some districts that have 4.5 students per square mile may receive funding based on a three-year blended count: MCL § 388.1606(4)(y). School districts that are not on a nine-month school calendar also have a different count.
[lxxxii]State aid financial status reports are sent to each school district by the state government in conjunction with the 11 annual state payments to the district. For a detailed discussion of these reports, see “State Aid Financial Status Reports.”