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Rural Michigan Schools Get Boost in New Budget Bill

Small, rural schools in Michigan could receive more per-pupil funds under a new education budget that was approved by lawmakers last week, according to a recent article by Michigan-based MLive Media.

The education budget increases per-pupil allowances for the state by $177 million, which means schools will receive an extra per-student payment depending on the current amount of funding the school receives. Many of the highest-funded schools will receive $50 per student, while the lowest-funded schools, many of which are small and rural, will receive up to an additional $175 per student. 

About 30 percent of schools in Michigan are rural and they serve 21 percent of students in the state, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. Michigan's rural adult unemployment rate is 10 percent, which is the highest in the nation, and nearly 45 percent of rural students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Nationwide, the amount of rural per-pupil spending has increased in recent years, from about 5,600 in the 2008-09 school year to more than $5,800 in the 2010-11 school year, according to a recent report by the Rural School and Community Trust. During the 2010-11 school year, Michigan spent about $5,500 per rural student. While some lawmakers opposed the new budget and said that $50 minimum payment is insufficient, others said the range of payments would close the "equity gap" between larger, more urban schools, and those in rural areas, which often have higher transportation costs and dwindling student populations. 

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