Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > April 15 | This Week In Government: Enrollment Numbers Directly Linked To Fewer Children In Michigan; LEO: Nearly 50% Of Residents Have Post-Secondary Certification

April 15 | This Week In Government: Enrollment Numbers Directly Linked To Fewer Children In Michigan; LEO: Nearly 50% Of Residents Have Post-Secondary Certification

April 14, 2022
Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Enrollment Numbers Directly Linked To Fewer Children In Michigan
  2. LEO: Nearly 50% Of Residents Have Post-Secondary Certification
  3. Auto Worker Recalls Push Down Unemployment In March
  4. House Transportation: $750M GF For Local Roads
  5. House Elections Hears Slate Of Photo-Related Voter ID Bills

Enrollment Numbers Directly Linked To Fewer Children In Michigan

Trends in enrollment data show public school enrollment is returning to pre-pandemic levels, but the decline was a direct reflection of fewer school-aged students in the state.

That’s according to a presentation before the State Board of Education Tuesday by Tom Howell, the executive director of the Center for Educational Performance and Information, and Lauren Patula, the Center’s Pre-K-12 data manager.

The data looked at the last 10 years of student population in public schools, finding that since 2010, there’s been an average decline of 1.2% of school-aged children, five years of age to 17 years of age, reported in the overall population.

For more than a decade, the presenters said the demographic trends in the state were mirrored in enrollment, falling by an average of 0.8% each year. The fall of 2020 saw the largest observed decline, though there were signs of recovery in some grades the following year. Mr. Howell said enrollment fell by roughly 4.13% which translates to about 61,900 students.

Overall enrollment rebounded by roughly 5,800 students.

He reminded the board that several factors impacted this statistic, including the reality that the low population decline accounted for more than 10,000 students on an annual basis.

“Looking over the past 10 years, you’ll see this trend line, a gentle reduction in enrollment by roughly 10,500 students per year over the past decade,” Howell said. “That’s a little less than one percent, roughly 0.8% to be more precise, going on in our enrollment processes.”

The fall of 2020 also saw considerable dips in preschool and kindergarten enrollment numbers, with 15,800 fewer students enrolling in preschool programs that year. Public school kindergarten programs also saw a decline of 13,000 students. This drop equivocates to roughly 11.32 percent and the single grade accounted for nearly a third of the overall drop.

“Kindergarten through third grade is where we saw the largest dips in enrollment and very specifically pre-K and kindergarten is the two areas where it seems the pandemic most dramatically impacted enrollment patterns according to the data,”  Howell said.

Pre-K enrollment fell by 33.1 percent in fall 2020, but rebounded in fall 2021 by 36.47%.

For special education transition services for individuals aged 18 to 26, Howell said there was a dip of roughly 4.2 percent in 2020 but it stabilized the next year.

Shared-time enrollment, or students who participate in homeschool or non-public school activities but still receive services from public schools, saw growth from 2010 through 2016. The enrollment for shared-time students began declining two years prior to the pandemic and a sharp decline occurred during the fall of 2020. They also began increasing in enrollment during 2021.

Looking at enrollment by race and ethnicity, there were predictable declines that mimicked the overall decline in student population. Howell said students who identified as white were decreasing faster than their non-white peers, a reflection of the state’s population becoming more diverse.

“The most notable gains really have been seen in our Hispanic/Latino community and with students who identify with two or more races,” Howell said. “Again, very similar to the trends that we’re seeing as an overall population of students ages five to 17 throughout the state.”

He added with the exception of students who identify with two or more races, all racial and ethnic categories declined in 2020.

The enrollment count for students who received special education services dropped in fall 2020 by 7,500 students, but Howell said the proportion of students participating in special education continues to increase at a very slow rate. In 2021 there was an enrollment increase of 900 students. English learners also rebounded slightly from its decrease of 3,500 students, with 1,611 re-enrolling in 2021.

Patula discussed the enrollment shift, saying very early analysis suggests that students who exited to non-public and homeschool in 2020 may be returning at a higher rate than similar students who exited from 2018 and 2019. She also said shifts can be counter-balanced by an influx of students who are new or returning into public education.

Kindergarten trends heavily influenced K-12 trends, but Patula said there was also a noticeable increase of students grades 1-12 that was above pre-pandemic levels in fall 2021.

Charter enrollment and full virtual enrollment increased in fall 2020.

“Over the past two years, charter enrollment has increased about 3,000 students, but the bulk of that happening in fall 2020,” Patula said. “Over the same time period, traditional enrollment has been declining and so taken together, these two trends mean that charter districts are accounting for a growing proportion of public education.”

The presenters said for all data presented today, additional years of data are needed to fully flesh out enrollment trends post-pandemic.

LEO: Nearly 50% Of Residents Have Post-Secondary Certification

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin said the post- secondary attainment percentage is at 49.1%, a little less than 11% away from the states 60% attainment rate by 2030.

However, she said the state continues to lag behind the national average.

Corbin gave a presentation to the State Board of Education on Tuesday, saying the number has experienced a “modest climb” from the 45 percent the department previously reported.

“Increasingly, jobs are going unfilled because Michiganders don’t have the post-secondary credentials required to fill them,” Corbin said. “We’re focused on making progress towards our 60 by 30 goal, but also making sure our educated people meet the talent needs of employers by helping us attain our goal.”

She also noted that Michigan needs to work to boost college enrollment for traditional age students right out of college.

Programs within 60 by 30 include Futures for Frontliners and Reconnect Michigan which often target residents over 25. More than 500 students graduated for through Reconnect in its first round in 2021. Nearly 16,000 residents enrolled and there were nearly 95,000 applications. Sixty-seven percent of the applications were reportedly women and 31% were men, with 2% choosing not to respond.

Of this demographic, 52% were white, 31% were Black, 5% were Hispanic and Latino, 5% were two or more races, 1% were Asian and 1% were American Indian and Pacific Islander.

Futures for Frontliners also reported similarly high numbers, with more than 120,000 applicants and 85,000 of those applicants eligible for the tuition-free pathway since its launch in September 2020. The first round of Future for Frontliners graduated at the end of winter or spring in 2021, with more 1,000 residents graduating from the program.

From the more than 100,000 applicants, 67% were women and 33 percent were men. White residents made up 59% of applicants, Black residents made up 26%, Hispanic and Latino residents made up 5%, two or more races made up 5%, Asian residents made up 1% and American Indian and Pacific Islander residents made up 1%. Four percent of applicants did not report their ethnicity.

A scholarship program gifting a one-time grant of up to $1,500 towards tuition cost for those in business management, construction, health care, information technology and manufacturing received more than 3,000 applicants. More than 800 applicants qualified and are participating in the program.

Seventy-two percent of these applicants were women and 27% were men. Black residents made up 56% of the applicants, 28% were white residents, 5% were two or more races, 4% were Hispanic or Latino, 1% were Asian, 1% were American Indian or Pacific Islander and 5% did not report their ethnicity.

Tuition is not the only barrier many of the applicants faced, with Corbin saying many needed housing and food, childcare, books and supplies and transportation. She added these complications have led Whitmer to include a $15 million supplemental for the fiscal year budget.

Board member Tom McMillin (R-Oakland Township) asked about removing barriers, referencing the first goal of LEO’s strategic plan that focuses on this. He asked if there is an effort to remove burdensome licensing for those wanting to start businesses.

Corbin said the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs handles the majority of licensing, but did say LEO’s Office of Global Michigan works with new American residents overcome barriers they’re unfamiliar with.

McMillin also asked about small business forced to close due to finances or other reasons during the pandemic, questioning if the agency had been working to reestablish them.

Corbin agreed small businesses were impacted by disproportionately during the pandemic. She mentioned LEO did have several programs to assist those during the pandemic, including a grant program to help small businesses winterize.

Board member Jason Strayhorn (D-Novi) mentioned the department had a goal of 60,000 applicants by Memorial Day for the Reconnect program, which hit 95,000 by mid-March. He asked what they were doing from a marketing standpoint.

Corbin said they toured schools and key legislators helped further marketing efforts. Ms. Corbin did however say there are 4.1 million residents eligible, adding 95,000 is a relatively small percentage in comparison.

Auto Worker Recalls Push Down Unemployment In March

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 0.3% in March to 4.4% as the number of employed increased by 29,000.

With a decreased in the number of unemployed people by 14,000, that meant a labor force gain of 15,000.

“The Michigan labor market has been positive this year,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, in a statement. “Michigan’s jobless rate has averaged 4.7% so far in 2022, and the state has only recorded a lower annual rate twice in recent decades, the periods from 1997 to 2000 and 2017 to 2019.”

The state’s unemployment rate for March, however, still topped the national rate of 3.6%.

Total employment in Michigan has now increased by 62,000 in the last three months.

A big factor in the job growth was the recall of auto workers on temporary layoffs. Employment in the manufacturing sector grew by 8,000.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a statement, said the job numbers are a positive sign.

“For 11 straight months, our economy has added jobs, and in March 2022, unemployment hit a pandemic-low of 4.4%. The last time Michigan had a 4.4% unemployment rate was in 2018,” she said in a statement.

House Transportation: $750M GF For Local Roads

The Department of Transportation could see a roughly $474 million increase from the current fiscal year under a budget recommendation approved by the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee that included $750 million in new General Fund money for local roads.

Recommended in HB 5791 (H-1) is a Department of Transportation budget of just under $6.8 billion ($753.9 million General Fund), which was unanimously reported by members of the subcommittee Tuesday.

“We have a long way to go in catching up on infrastructure, but this is a good first start here,” said Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), the committee’s chair. “It’s a big increase, even over last year.”

House lawmakers mostly agreed with what the executive budget recommendation first outlined, in some instances even allotting more than what the governor’s office called for, such as in the instance of a local bus transit program.

There, the House included an increase of $10 million in restricted Comprehensive Transportation Fund monies, $5 million more than what the governor recommended. That additional funding would be reallocated from funding initially slotted to go toward a program which provides matching funds on behalf of local transit agencies to access federal transit capital grants.

Regarding rail operations and infrastructure, the House concurred with Whitmer’s recommendation to allot $135.9 million for state rail programs – up $31.5 million from the current year – with a $10 million increase in federal aid for rail programs as well as a $21.5 increase in CTF support. But regarding the CTF support, the House’s budget earmarked that funding in a boilerplate item, indicating that the money will go toward supporting rail-related economic development projects and rail freight system preservation projects.

Additional boilerplate items the House budget includes is an authorization for MDOT to transfer up to $10 million from the state trunkline road and bridge construction line item to state trunkline maintenance for certain specified activities, as well as a prohibition featured in other budgets on remote work for certain state employees provided they did not already work remotely prior to February 28, 2020.

There were also instances where the House did not include one-time General Fund dollars, including $150 million in one-time funding for critical road and bridge infrastructure, $66.6 million in one-time funding for freeway pumphouse generators and $60 million in one-time funding for priority rail grade separation projects, though per the last funding initiative the House did include a $100 place holder instead.

One-time funding the House did include, though, was $750 million in General Fund monies for distribution to local road agencies. This would break down to $481.5 million for county road commissions and $268.5 million for cities and villages, with the monies being distributed to specific agencies.

Unlike other budgets, several amendments were tacked on to the bill by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike.

These included earmarking $750,000 in State Trunkline Fund dollars from state trunkline operations for the procurement of industrial magnet roadway sweepers, earmarking $5 million to incentivize and support the inclusion of low impact development stormwater management practices in trunkline and local road agency construction projects, language requiring MDOT to conduct a feasibility study of vehicle miles traveled for transportation funding in replacement of motor fuel taxes and language requiring the department to do a separate feasibility study of rail passenger service from New Buffalo, Michigan to Traverse City.

House Elections Hears Slate Of Photo-Related Voter ID Bills

Photos taken for driver’s licenses, state IDs and the like would need to be uploaded to the Qualified Voter File under a trio of bills before the House Elections Committee on Tuesday.

HB 5885, HB 5886 and HB 5887, all sponsored by Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Brighton), would work together to require the secretary of state to update and replace the photo of a person applying to renew their driver’s license, a renewal/duplicate state personal ID or a renewal/duplicate enhanced driver’s license or state personal ID card and upload that photograph to the QVF.

The second and last bill of the bunch would also change the period for which a person could renew their license or ID card by mail – before an in-person renewal is required – from 12 to eight years.

This package would also prohibit displaying any part of a person’s Social Security number on a license or card, though displaying the entirety of a person’s Social Security number is already prohibited.

Bollin said that with the allowance of no-reason absentee voting in 2018, though it allowed for a greater opportunity for people to register and vote, it also meant that “Michigan voters never have to appear before a local clerk to verify their identity.”

“What is concerning is that voters’ photo ID may not be updated. … I think it’s safe to say that there are certain chapters in our lives that our appearances take on significant changes, and that the photo ID may not be a current as possible to protect the voter,” she said.

In questions from the committee, Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) questioned what clerks would do with the photo, to which Bollin said that she was open to the idea of placing the photo into the state’s electronic pollbook instead for easier access.

OTHER BUSINESS: HJR G was also reported to the full House in a 6-0 vote, with Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) absent. The joint resolution would amend the timing for considering and adopting proposed amendments to Michigan’s constitution by requiring an amendment be placed on the ballot during an election held at least 90 days after legislative approval.