CRC Note 2016-01, October 2016

This report is a follow up to State Support of Nonpublic School Students, Memorandum 1126, January 2014

In January 2014, the Citizens Research Council reported on Michigan’s “shared time” arrangement that allows state school aid funds to be paid to public school districts (traditional and charter) that enroll nonpublic school students.  While the number of “shared time” students statewide remains relatively small (about 11,300 students) compared to Michigan’s total public school enrollment (1.4 million students), the growth of “shared time” enrollments since 2014 has been prodigious.  With this growth, Michigan now spends close to $100 million to support the education of nonpublic school students by public school teachers.  The financial incentives involved with “shared time,” combined with recent law changes, will continue to drive up nonpublic school student enrollment over the coming years.

“Shared time” instruction refers to the use of state funds to finance educational services supplied to nonpublic students enrolled in both traditional public and charter schools.  Basically, “shared time” is a form of dual enrollment for K-12 students.  These private school students are enrolled part-time in the public school for certain elective courses (i.e., non-core curriculum) and the enrolling district receives state School Aid Funds based on the number of classes the student takes (i.e., a fraction of a per-pupil foundation grant).  This form of indirect aid to nonpublic schools has existed, uninterrupted, in Michigan since the 1920s.  The arrangement has been deemed legal by the courts and does not violate Michigan’s ban on direct aid to nonpublic schools under Article VIII, Section 2 of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.

 

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