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As an executive in the construction industry, I rely heavily on Michigan’s K-12 public schools to provide top-notch talent to keep my business running strong. A high-quality public school education is also essential to continue Michigan’s economic comeback.

In its recent editorial, “Examining the crisis in Michigan’s schools,” the Detroit News accurately noted that Michigan is at the bottom in reading and other student performance nationwide. That includes students in inner-cities and rural centers as much as those in the suburbs, regardless of household income, race or other circumstances.

But what will it cost to improve student achievement and prepare our kids for the 21st century workforce? We know the cost of a gallon of milk, a new car or a new computer. So it only makes sense that we know the true cost of educating a student in Michigan.

As a state, we must roll up our sleeves and change our approach to funding Michigan’s schools so that each and every child has an equal chance to achieve and succeed.

That’s why I’m proud to serve on the School Finance Research Collaborative, a diverse, bipartisan group of business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula examining Michigan’s broken school funding system under a new lens. In early 2018, the collaborative will release the findings of Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study, which will help determine the true cost of student achievement in Michigan.

The new study is being conducted by the country’s top two school finance research firms and is being informed by nearly 300 Michigan educators, all of whom are on the front lines of public education every day. The educators, including teachers, teacher consultants, principals, superintendents, special education directors and specialists, are serving on 20 panels, including those dedicated to career and technical education and poverty students.

The study also includes a special panel on charter schools, as well as panels on preschool, districts of varying sizes and geographically isolated districts. Additional panels focus on special needs students including those with learning challenges, English language learners and at-risk students.

By using multiple methodologies, this study will provide Michigan policymakers with the most complete, accurate and reliable data to date on what it costs to educate a student in Michigan.

With this information in hand, we will begin to answer the question: What does it cost to educate a child in Michigan? It’s a question we can’t afford to leave unanswered.

Doug Maibach

chairman, Barton Malow Enterprises

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