The impact of Proposal A on two Michigan school districts

James D. Cooper


In 1994 the state of Michigan changed its school finance system. Over a nine-month period between July, 1993, and March, 1994, state legislators and the voters of Michigan acted to change the tax structure and address funding equity for public schools. In the fall of 1994, Michigan's public schools began operating under an entirely new set of school finance reforms. The primary focus of this research is the articulation of the effects of the 1994 Michigan school funding reform (Proposal A). The purpose of this research was to conduct a policy analysis and impact analysis of Proposal A on two Michigan school districts. The research, which is drawn from Thompson (1967) and Pfeffer & Salancik (2003), traced the relationship between environment and governance actions as it pertained to fund allocation in the K-12 Michigan school system. A case study design with a qualitative emphasis was chosen as the structure of this research. The research centered upon the formulation and instrumentation of organizational changes for two northern lower Michigan school districts, as they occurred, as well as the results of those changes. Research focused around data which consisted of interviews, observational notes, state and local documents, and other artifacts. The initial focus was upon the events leading to Proposal A and why these factors necessitated change. Those data are followed by a review of the relationship between fiscal federalism, governance, and resource dependency theory and application of those findings to data relevant to the two districts in northern Michigan. This study is unique in its narrowed focus and structural specificity.