Hi League of Extraordinary Educators,
We have a bunch of people in and around Wayne County ready to make calls tomorrow regarding the Wayne County Enhancement Millage Proposal on Tuesday, if your name isn’t on this list, call or email me! 🙂
Below is the list of callers so far, the phone script and an editorial in support of the Millage.
Solidarity, Mark Dilley AFT MI Organizer 313-942-9454
== 12 – 2 ==
Mark C 12-1
Johnny M 12-1
Nikhol A 12-1
== 2 – 4 ==
== 4 – 6 ==
== 6 – 8 ==
Hi may I speak to _________
My name is _________ and
I am a member of AFT Michigan volunteering today to call other AFT union members in Wayne County to make sure you know there is an Enhancement Millage Proposal on tomorrow’s ballot, which will provide additional funding for local school districts in Wayne County.
Will you be voting for the Enhancement Millage? Yes No
If YES –
That is great! Our students really need the support. Do you know what time of day you will likely be voting, in the morning, afternoon or evening?
<It helps with turnout if you have a plan 🙂 >
<Their response> Great.
If NO or DON’T KNOW
The request is for a 2.0 mill assessment for five years. What that means is that for every $100,000 in market value on your property, you would pay approximately $1.92 a week.
This Millage will raise $80 million for Wayne County students in the first year and be distributed to local districts on a per-pupil basis.
Based on this info, would you be voting for the Enhancement Millage? Yes No
Thank you very much for your time.
Endorsement: For the sake of Wayne County’s schools, vote yes for millage
9:30 AM, July 25, 2014
Several school districts in Wayne County are asking voters to approve a millage to help fund operating budgets in districts across the county. / 2011 photo by KIMBERLY P. MITCHELL/Detroit Free Press
By The Detroit Free Press Editorial Board
Some Wayne County schools are struggling. Plagued with years of declining revenue and enrollment, they’re hard-pressed to make ends meet. Other schools are treading water, but lack the funds to invest in things like technology or building upgrades, or to hire sufficient teachers to reduce class sizes.
That’s why the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency is asking county voters to approve a regional enhancement millage in the Aug. 5 primary election.
Because of the way schools are funded in Michigan, districts can’t ask voters to approve local operational millages, though millages to fund bond sales or to support a district sinking fund are kosher. Only regional entities like the Wayne County RESA can make that kind of ask. It’s the first time that the agency has asked for an enhancement millage in more than 20 years.
We encourage Wayne County residents to vote YES to approve this millage.
If approved, the district would assess a tax of 2 mills per $1,000 of taxable value, or $200 for every $100,000 of taxable value. The millage, which would last six years, is expected to generate $80 million in the first year it’s assessed. Each district would receive $379 per student.
The state’s per-pupil funding has been on the decline; even increases such as the one approved by the Legislature for next year’s budget will be a net loss for many districts, Wayne County RESA Superintendent Chris Wigent says, because districts are required to assume a larger share of employees’ retirement expenses.
In Garden City Public Schools, it’s a matter of staying afloat, said district superintendent Michelle Cline. The district is expected to finish the 2014-15 school year with a deficit; even the enhancement millage won’t eliminate the deficit, but new revenue would soften the cuts the district will make.
Westwood Community School District Superintendent Sue Carnell said the millage-generated funds would allow the district to invest in building and technology upgrades, and new instructional materials, some of which are necessary to meet the newly implemented Common Core educational standards.
Nineteen Wayne County school boards support the millage; seven voted against, and seven didn’t formally consider the proposal.
Some districts view the millage skeptically. Because it is levied based on the taxable value of property, but distributed on a fixed basis per-pupil, in 13 districts, the millage would generate more money than the district would receive. Conversely, 20 districts — among them Detroit, Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Wyandotte, Southgate and Dearborn — would receive more than the millage generates. In some districts, like Detroit (which has the highest pupil count in the state), significantly more.
For other districts, it’s a problem of timing.
“There are some districts that have other issues on the August ballot that are very important to the local districts, and I think there are some concerns there,” Wigent said.
That’s one concern in Livonia, where the board voted against supporting the millage: “While every community is in a different position, we asked our community for a millage last year,” Livonia Superintendent Randy Liepa said. “We felt that was our ask to our community.”
Livonia also has a sinking and building fund millage on this year’s ballot, and a renewal of the district’s regular operating millage.
But Livonia’s concerns — and, in fact, the need for this millage — underscore the strong need to reform the way we fund public education in this state.
As per-pupil funding for school districts, or revenue sharing for cities, has declined, Michiganders have proved willing to support local tax increases, for school districts, libraries, police or fire services. But it’s a quick fix, a bandage for budgets that have been pared to the bone by state cuts.
“The system for public school funding is broken,” Cline said. “And worse, we’ve set it up so we are stealing each others’ students.”
Liepa agrees: “One reason this is even up as a proposal is because of the lack of funding from Lansing for local school districts. School districts are going to the last resort, in the struggle for funding through the normal mechanisms.”
Relatively modest millage increases add up, and at some point, voters get something we like to call millage fatigue. Local communities have been creative in making cuts, and in asking for strategic tax increases. But state officials must take the lead in reforming the way we fund schools and cities — or voters can expect to keep seeing these kinds of requests.