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Schools in Charlevoix-Emmet ISD may consider regional millage for November ballot

Public school superintendents within the Char-Em ISD are anticipated to meet with their boards this month to discuss the possibility of a regional enhancement millage proposal to be put before the voters this fall.

According to a 2016 study of Michigan’s education funding system, the optimal spending level for Michigan schools is $8,677 per pupil, based on the spending levels of 54 school districts identified as “notably successful.” However, most school districts within the Char-Em ISD receive $7,511 per pupil—$1,156 short of the optimal spending level.


The Problem
School funding and finance has, and continues to be, a challenge for districts throughout the region and across Michigan.
Since 2000, state funding has failed to keep up with inflation, forcing districts to make millions of dollars in cuts and find new efficiencies.
For the past 10 years, local districts have increased class sizes, eliminated staff, and delayed or eliminated supplies, among other steps to balance their budgets.

Possible Solution
A 1 mil regional enhancement millage across Char-Em ISD would raise approximately $616 per pupil for each local district. Enhancement millages are levied, collected, and distributed equally to every district on a per pupil basis.
Char-Em ISD would receive no funds from the proposal.

Authority to Levy
When the Legislature in 1993 drafted a new funding formula for public schools, passed by voters as Proposal A in 1994, a majority of legislators feared the new funding plan would fall short of revenue needs and expectations in certain communities.
To compensate for the need for additional revenues, the proposal included a provision allowing
Intermediate School Districts to levy up to 3 mils for 20 years or fewer to be distributed on a per-pupil basis to every constituent school district within that ISD.
Local boards of education representing more than 50 percent of the student population in the ISD must pass resolutions for the Char-Em ISD Board of Education to accept the proposal.

Potential Support
A research-based telephone survey, conducted May 18-20 by Denno-Research of East Lansing, reached 300 likely voters in Charlevoix, Emmet and northern Antrim counties.
It revealed a fair amount of support for a regional enhancement millage.
According to the Char-Em ISD, a large majority of voters responding to a telephone survey said they favor a potential regional enhancement millage for each of the local school districts in the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District’s service area.
“The survey results indicate great public support in helping students,” said Char-Em ISD Superintendent Jeff Crouse.
“The next step is for superintendents to continue talking with boards of education about the potential of placing a regional enhancement millage proposal on the November ballot now that the data indicates enthusiasm for supporting students.”

Key Findings
• 65 percent of respondents are likely to vote in favor of a proposal that would raise taxes by one mil to support local school districts within the ISD.

• A majority of the respondents (62 percent) are more likely to vote for the millage after hearing that each individual school district could use the funds for purposes that fit their needs.

• A majority of the respondents (60 percent) are more likely to support the millage after hearing about the drastic budget cuts from the state since 2008.

• Respondents favored local control to determine a district’s priorities but also noted other areas they favor their local district address including career and college readiness, smaller class sizes, special education funding, and curriculum and instructional supplies.

If the ballot proposal idea receives enough support from local school boards, the matter could be put to a vote of the people at the Nov. 7 election.
To date, six other ISDs in the state have successfully passed regional enhancement millages.


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