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Posted on Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 8:50 a.m.

Washtenaw Intermediate School District board votes to place enhancement millage on ballot

By David Jesse

Local voters will get a chance to vote on approving extra money for traditional school districts when they head to the polls in November.

The Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s school board formally voted Tuesday morning to place a 2-mill enhancement millage on the November ballot.

The WISD’s action followed each of the county’s 10 traditional school districts’ school boards passing resolutions asking the WISD board to take this action.

If approved by voters, the 2-mill tax would raise about $30 million each year for the next five years for the school districts.

The money would be split among the districts based on enrollment, not on how much each district raised in tax revenue, WISD officials said.

The Ann Arbor school district, the county’s largest district, would receive the most, more than $11 million per year.

Not included on the list of those getting the money would be the county’s charter schools, which have about 3,500 students.

Tom Bower, a Lodi Township resident and an instructor at theWashtenaw Technical Middle College - a charter school - raised concerns about that during Tuesday morning’s meeting.

“Is it a requirement of state law (not to give the money to charter schools) or is it a choice of the WISD not to include (charter schools)?”

Bower argued that because charter schools are public schools, funded by the state’s per-pupil grant like traditional school districts, they should also get the money.

Bill Miller, the WISD’s superintendent, said state law lays out exactly how the WISD has to pay out the funds.

“It’s not a local decision,” Miller said. “Our attorneys tell us we’re not allowed to distribute (the money to charter schools).”

“It’s in the best interest of our children, our schools and our communities to place this issue on the ballot,” WISD Board President Mark Van Bogelen said. “Strong schools build strong communities by attracting good jobs. This millage will help keep our schools strong.”


Tom Bower

Tue, Sep 15, 2009 : 8:58 p.m.

The fact that current Michigan law as interpreted by some appears to preclude general enhancement millage money from being distributed to public school academies (charter schools) does not mean that the law is constitutional. The information page provided by WISD states that public school academies are not defined by the Michigan School Code as "constituent districts." However, readers should look at Public Act 101 of 2007 which grants intermediate school districts authority to establish a common school calendar for their member districts. In that public act, public school academies are included in the definition of "constituent districts." In addition, there is probably a strong argument that could be made by public school academy students (about 3,500 in Washtenaw County, which is equivalent to the fifth largest school district in Washtenaw County), some of whom are special needs students, that denial of access to the enhancement millage money is a denial of their equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. It would take deep pockets and a lot of years to wage a legal battle to determine the constitutionality of the specific operative Michigan School Code section, but such a battle could be initiated even after the millage passes and could result in WISD having to redistribute already disbursed money, should the statute be found unconstitutional. In addition, the Michigan Department of Education has authority to promulgate rules and interpret the Michigan School Code. Given the conflict in Michigan School Code concerning the definition of constituent districts as related to public school academies, the Department of Education could do the right thing and simply issue a clarification memorandum permitting public school academies to receive general enhancement millage money. This would save the costs of a lengthy legal battle and resolve the equal protection issue. What is interesting is that WISD officials and local school district officials have been discussion this millage for about two years and during that time no one has initiated any action in Lansing with the Michigan Legislature to amend the School Code to permit public school academies to share in the distribution of general enhancement millage money, as they should be permitted to do. If WISD and officials of local school districts are truly concerned with helping ALL children in public schools, then they should be working to get the current law changed so children attending public school academies in Washtenaw County, and throughout the state, are not treated as second-class citizens when it comes to receipt of public tax dollars. Voters will decide whether to increase their residential property taxes and the property taxes on businesses during this time of economic distress when people's incomes are declining, other tax/fee rates are increasing, and property values are declining. Many on this blog have mentioned the need for greater fiscal responsibility by local school districts. For example, by not holding its school board elections on the general election date in November, the Ann Arbor Public Schools spend more than $76,000 per election. (Source: Washtenaw County Clerks Office). The cost for the district if it elected school board trustees during the November general election would be less than $100. Granted, $76,000 is a small amount compared to an annual operating budget of $45 million, but it does represent money that is needlessly spent. And, lets remember that Ann Arbor took it upon itself to open a third comprehensive high school which it probably didnt need. And, lets not forget about the Ann Arbor long-term substitute debacle which saw the district incur about $30 million in costs because it lost a class action lawsuit. Regardless of ones position concerning the proposed enhancement millage, the distribution of tax dollars for public education should not exclude public school students who happen to attend the fastest growing segment of public schools in Michigan --- public school academies. Tom Bower 15-September-2009


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 5:53 p.m.

I made some calls and calculated based on the best data I could get that Ann Arbor would indeed be a "donor" district - it would pay about $1.41 for every dollar it receives. Every other district would get more than it pays in. For example, Milan would get $1.68 and Willow run 1.63 for every dollar put in. Ypsi schools would get 1.31, Chelsea 1.05, Dexter 1.09, Lincoln 1.65, Manchester 1.27, and Whitmore Lake 1.16. Hey Ann Arbor, is ok to get only 71% of the money we pay in? Maybe it is. If Ypsi Milan and Willow Run schools fail we will feel the impact in social costs, increased crime, etc.


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 8:51 a.m.

Steve, I understand that. But the millage will send money to other districts, and do they need it? Does Dexter really need more money? How about Saline? Is Ypsi really operating its schools as efficiently as possible? And how much of this will WISD keep? And what on earth does the WISD actually do? Steve, do you know what they do and why they need more money? The Ann Arbor schools are not collapsing. Not even close. And there are places to, at the very least, examine spending for cuts that will serve the majority of kids. I cannot support a blanket tax that sends money to districts for expenses I know nothing about. Yes the state funds fluctuate. But property taxes would too, and somehow the district managed that. It's not the end of the world, and government does not need to pick my pocket again rather than look more closely at how it operates.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 9:37 p.m.

Dagny: As to buses, my kids go to an AAPS elementary school, and the buses that pull up each day seem pretty full to me. That's at Burns Park. As to taxes: you're right, there are dedicated taxes. Six mills on all property goes to Lansing, along with 3/4 of the sales tax, part of the income tax, etc. Locally, AAPS levies a "hold harmless" millage that dates from 1994, because at that time we were spending more than the state maximum for our kids. There is also 18 mills on commercial property as part of our local contribution. This is all set by state law. But here is the problem: the taxes may be dedicated, but what they bring in is not guaranteed. Sales and income tax revenue have collapsed, and they are the source of about 80% of the state's funds for schools. In AAPS, we get half our money from the state; on average, Michigan schools get 3/4 of their money from state aid (the rest from local taxes that make up their expected contribution). When the state system takes in less money, they must either immediately cut school funding or find a way to fill the gap. So far, they've used half the Federal stimulus just to fill the gap for the current school year! (Which doesn't end until September, with the state's fiscal year.) It's not that spending has run ahead of steady revenues; it's that the money available for schools has collapsed, but we still have roughly the same number of students to educate. If we let our schools get dismantled, what kind of future can we expect for our kids and our communities?


Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 10:10 a.m.

Julie, whoever sent you the email saying there is no dedicated funding for schools is wrong. Every property is taxed 3 mills for schools. That money goes to the state to pay for the state's schools. In addition, 1percent of the sales tax is for schools. On top of that, Ann Arbor taxes itself an additional couple of mills for its schools as part of a "hold harmless" clause in Prop A that allowed some districts to have higher per-pupil operating expenses than set by the state. If the bills exceed the income, then maybe the AA schools ought to cut some spending. We need only look at operating expenses, not capital expenses. Find schools with higher per-pupil spending (including transportation) and ask why these schools spend more. Also, look at the per pupil costs to move students from small schools into consolidated larger schools. Add up the savings. If after the districts (in this county) do that work and then show voters that they cannot buy textbooks, etc., I bet many would support the millage. In the meantime, not so much.

David Jesse

Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 8:45 a.m.

DagnyJ: If you follow this link ( you can see Ypsi's enrollment for the past several years. According to that link, Ypsi had 3,913.67 full-time equivalent students last school year; 3,901.61 the year before; 4,116.53 the year before that and 4,169.30 the year before that. I'm currently working on a story looking at exactly where all the local school districts are spending their money by major category - instruction, general administration, transportation, etc. Give me a couple of days to pull all the data together and I'll post it. If you have specific items you want me to look at, feel free to post here, or e-mail me at


Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 8:17 a.m.

Ahh, more "anecdote" as fact. Julie reports that the buses are full to the brim. I would like to see the district's data on this. Are the buses that run all day long between Community HS and the other three HS full? They run every hour, and maybe there are two or three kids on each bus trip. Then there are the empty elementary school buses that bring kids to Angell and Burns Park. Look at those. As for Ypsi, David can you tell us what enrollment is inYpsi for the last four years and provide associated school spending? I'm interested in seeing whether Ypsi schools have actually cut spending in proportion to the drop in an enrollment. Before we yell that the sky is falling, let's see if elected school officials have been doing the hard work they promised to do.

Steve Norton, MIPFS

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 10:08 p.m.

Thanks Julie, Brit, and others who have responded here. I know that this is a really hard time to consider increasing property taxes. The only reason they're asking the voters to consider it is because the alternative is even worse. State law spells our precisely how the money would be collected and divided up; we have no say in that. The point is that state law also forbids us from raising money for operating schools by ourselves; we have to do it as an ISD. And yes, Ann Arbor would likely be a contributor to the other districts, but exactly how much depends on your estimates for property values next year, when the millage would take effect if passed. One thing everyone in Ann Arbor should know: AAPS voters have passed a bond millage (2004) and renewed a sinking fund (2008) which have been used to build Skyline, make major renovations in every school in the district. Some of these were seriously overdue, and will save the district money in the long term. As the bond is paid off, the tax will decline. Last year, we also renewed the basic operating millages that the state assumes we will pass when they calculate our state funding; if we don't, they don't make up the difference. It's against the law to use money raised for construction (the bond and sinking fund millages) to run our schools. The ONLY option we have to head off the coming disaster is a property tax levy across the entire ISD. And the disaster is coming; if you haven't heard about it, I suggest you check out some of the materials coming from our schools and from Lansing. Right now, the state is having to use about half of the Federal stimulus money to prevent taking money back from schools for the year we just finished! The Federal money will run out next year, requiring major cuts, since state revenue for education (mostly from the sales tax and income tax) has collapsed this year - and it's still getting worse each month. In their budget presentation, AAPS used state forecasts to predict that they might have to cut as much as $15 million the year after next, compared to the $5-7 million they've had to find each year for the last five years. That's 200 staff, or all student transportation, or.... you name it. And no one knows when Michigan's economy will bottom out. Two mills isn't greedy. That's $200 a year, less than $4 a week, for people who live in houses with a taxable value of $100,000 - meaning a minimum market value of $200,000. That's way above the average, even for Ann Arbor. And it's a small price to pay to prevent dismantling our school system. We count on our schools to prepare our kids for the future, and to make our community attractive to people and business in the here and now. There is too much at stake.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 6:47 p.m.

OK, and here's more. This is from a friend who works in the school system, responding to my emailing her about this thread: "BTW, our buses are full to the brim, we do most of our purchasing through a competitive bid process -- even for office supplies -- to get a bulk price, and the retirement system, while quite broken I agree, is controlled by the state -- we have no power at the county level or the district level to fix it. So you can argue that we need to fix it, and you're right, but that is not the question. The question is while we are leaning on Lansing to fix retirement and fix school funding in general (keep in mind, there is NO dedicated guaranteed funding for schools -- it's all part of the state budget), are we going to sigh and lament or are we going to save OUR schools and OUR kids in OUR county from this broken system?"


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 4:08 p.m.

Listen people... you cannot keep burying your heads in the sand on this one. Ypsi is going belly-up without this millage. The rest of the county will follow, Ann Arbor later than most, but follow it will. The current school deficit is NOT sustainable. Oh, and the only classes in Ann Arbor with 20 kids are a few of the kindergartens. We average 25-30 kids per class starting in 3rd grade.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 10:20 a.m.

David, I appreciate your work on this issue and we see from the chart what would be distributed by school district but not what would be raised by school district. "So yes, Ann Arbor would most likely be sending money to other area school districts". I think, from your questions to WISD, this is now very clear. But my question now is, would Ann Arbor be sending 10% 20% One million? Two million? I'm sure someone at WISD has figured that out but probably doesn't want to share with the public, becaue if they did, it would have a negative impact on the vote.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 8:59 a.m.

School districts do not make their expenses transparent. For example, what is the cost per pupil to operate individual schools? not averaged for the district, but each school. What is the most cost effective size of a school--elementary, middle, high--to operate with cost efficiency and get the best student learning? Some commentors assume that more money=better schools, but I have't yet seen anyone show me how exactly that is proven. Nor has anyone demonstrated that WISD districts are going without books, or maintenance. How exactly are districts like Ypsi dealing with declining enrollment? What actions do they take to keep costs in line with the size of the student body? Sorry, but I think this millage is a boondoggle. I have kids in school, and things like pretty good here in AA. The sky is not falling, but administrators have to work a lot harder now to do more with less. Just like all of us do.

Brit Satchwell

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 7:20 a.m.

As an AAPS teacher, AAPS graduate (I won't mention the year, but Go River Rats!), parent, and resident (38 years), I submit these comments: Having elections on pre-designated dates is the polar opposite of perpetuity. There is no conspiracy to subvert democracy or pad bulging coffers underway. Let the voters decide each and every time based on the community's needs. If competent and prudent elected school officials are now forecasting horror stories, it just might be that they are trying to tell us something as is their job. If they say a train is coming, it is incumbent upon any citizen who is not a hostage to their own cynicism to at least look down the tracks and judge the facts for themselves. We need to clear our minds of tired anti-tax, anti-teacher, anti-schools sound bites and look at the facts. Not only is a train approaching, but its whistle is screaming in our ears. Blaming the symptoms for the root illness will not lead to a cure. The details of the millage process, the budgets of each district, and how the districts intend to spend future revenue are and always have been completely transparent, if not simple enough to grasp in one glance. Democracy, when it works at peak efficiency, requires work on the part of citizens to educate themselves. However, it is also the right of every citizen to be apathetic or to substitute emotional opinions for facts. In such cases (Prop A), our democratic process keeps giving us second chances (this millage) when the consequences of such ill-informed cynicism become glaringly apparent (right now). Each and every district in the WISD has been cutting millions for years while coping as best they can. That they have been able to implement efficiencies while maintaining educational quality is a tribute to the administrators and teachers who have been coping with less and less for quite some time. Ann Arbor alone has cut $5 - $6 million in each of the last five years. While the millage will not solve the problem in Willow Run where they have a superintendent who cannot decide if she is the superintendent, it will help them transition out of the state oversight they are now subject to. Carly Fiorina, ex-CEO of Hewlitt Packard, once explained how strong schools promote jobs: When a business is looking to expand or build anew, it hopes to put its best people on that task. Those best people will want to transfer to a strong school district. Once the new business is launched, they will want to hire an educated workforce to protect their investment. That we are now in a knowledge-based economy is undeniable. One comment was that the writer does not have a vote in electing Ann Arbor board members. I hope that writer votes in his/her own WISD district. As an educator who slogged through reams of research in ed school, I assure you that ample research supports the link between smaller class sizes and learning. That nobody has provided it to you does not mean it doesn't exist. I suggest Google if any doubters are willing to do the work to satisfy their own curiosity. Barring that effort, just rely on your own experience in dealing with children... is it easier to get your message across when faced with fewer? Folks, this is our last opportunity under law to regain some local control of our school finances. What millages in Washtenaw County STAYS in Washtenaw County. While I disagree with many of the comments posted here, I do appreciate the time that everybody took to comment. Thanks for reading mine. Next stop: a close review of the facts, pros and cons, costs and benefits as the millage campaign gets underway.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 1:23 a.m.

I agree with those opposed to this millage. It's one thing to pay taxes into your own school district where residents have a say in the composition of the school board and its decision making. It's another where the funds are allocated out and there is no means of accountability from the other districts or from anyone. This will create a funding "pact" using a questionable allocation formula that will be automatic and without spending restrictions. No elected official, no administrator need be accountable to all the county for funds received in this manner because it will be disbursed by formula. Further, using enrollment as the means of allocation is suspect. Schools already are masters at fluffing up enrollment figures to ensure the biggest amount of state dollars. As for those who decry how schools can't ask for more funding on millages because of Proposal A and think we need a "workaround" to bypass this "impediment", all I know is that I recently supported a millage for a bond in our school district to improve the schools. Schools can and do get millages for many things. Just not for anything and everything like it was in the 1970s and 80s when teachers and bus drivers, etc would strike almost every autumn shutting schools for weeks at a time to get deluxe benefits regardless of the impact on the students. Many here may be too young to remember, but to pay for those benefits, millages were put on every ballot--even more than once a year--until passed. If they couldn't get passed, property assessments were run up beyond any reasonable market value to "shore up" the tax base. All this during the recession and stagflation of the Ford / Carter years which makes this current recession look tame. I recall the shocked and worried looks my parents would have with every property tax bill wondering how they would pay the tax increases that annually would come in the hundreds of dollars each year. You couldn't budget it because you would first learn of your reassessment in the property tax bill itself. You had limited appeals--yet ordinary citizens took time from work to flock to the assessment appeals boards each year to try to get some relief. I remember the stories of seniors forced to sell their homes and move to apartments. I had relatives and neighbors who had to leave their homes. That was reality and a sad part of our history. Taxation shouldn't force people out of their homes. Proposal A is a necessary safeguard against this kind of shakedown and abuse. Schools either must be responsible, pare their expenses, budget well and avoid boondoggles like Skyline or risk bankruptcy like Detroit. The Ann Arbor and Ypsi school districts have not shown me they are capable of either. I purposely did not purchase a home in those districts and have no desire to support them.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 10:21 p.m.

Well, Julie, I work hard too, and my City of Ann Arbor taxes are already way too high. 2 mills is not chump change - it is a lot of money. It may make the difference between someone keeping or losing their home due to higher taxes. In this economy, the school district should be ashamed of itself for asking for so much. If I lose my job, I can't just ask for more money. I have to make ends meet. Do the same. Frankly, I think 2 mills is very, very greedy.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 6:43 p.m.

I'm getting depressed by these posts. I do hope the general public is decidedly more generous (with their judgement and appraisals) than the majority of posters here. All those I know in the school system, teachers and administrators, work really really hard to make ends meet, and do well by our kids. And they need this millage. They are already making impossible choices.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 5:21 p.m.

I urge the WISD to think better of this ill-conceived idea. You will be throwing money down the hole for a losing election, since WISD will have to pay $2,000+ for each of the voting precincts in the county's townships (where there is no regular November election in odd years). This single item on the ballot will cost WISD over $180,000--a lot of money to put on a bad bet. And I can assure you it is a losing bet. Earlier this year, I was subjected to a telephone push poll on this proposed millage proposal. It was obvious that the backers were looking for the right platitude buttons to press to get me to vote for having another $300 a year removed from my family budget. I told the pollster that none of the sound bites would convince me, after almost forty years of directly observing the utter waste and stupidity in the administration of my local school district. And now, having joined the ranks of Michiganians living on unemployment, I do not have the money to pay my current property tax bill, let alone an even bigger hit.

Life in Ypsi

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 3:54 p.m.

I will be voting no. I am not convinced more money will solve what's happening in the WR school district. It's time for schools to consolidate.

David Jesse

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 3:24 p.m.

Alan: I specifically asked the WISD this morning this question. Their response was that all the money would be, in essence, pooled together and then sent back out to the districts according to each district's enrollment. So yes, Ann Arbor would most likely be sending money to other area school districts. As for how much each district would get under the plan, you can see the chart attached to this story:

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 3:14 p.m.

"The money would be split among the districts based on enrollment, not on how much each district raised in tax revenue, WISD officials said." It would be helpful if there was a breakdown of how much money would be raised with the tax in each district, what each district would be receiving and what districts would be 'donors' and who would be 'receivers' of more than their tax receipts. So Ann Arbor would get the 'most' funds because they have more students. What dollar amount would flow out of the A2 district because of the tax to lower assess districts? WISD really needed to provide this data or should calculate this for the reader. I do not feel comfortable paying taxes to the WISD because they are no accountable to the voter. I hate to complain but already, the City of Ann Arbor supports AATA with a 2 mill tax...some of which goes to supporting buses in Ypsilanti, who refuse to tax themselves for this service for the full amount required. It's only with a complete breakdown of the facts on this issue can voters make an intelligent choice.

David Jesse

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 3:07 p.m.

Julie: There are no Washtenaw county traditional school districts under 500 students. Here's a link to demographic and student counts for the last several years from the Washtenaw Intermediate School District:


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 2:53 p.m.

My understanding of the research is that consolidation presents significant cost savings only in districts with fewer than 500 students: I don't know the numbers in all the Washtenaw school districts, but I can't imagine that any are that small.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 2:50 p.m.

More money for books- sure, short term maintenance - absolutely, gym class - you bet. If the money was going to end up enhancing the student experience, I would vote for it in a heart beat, but it will not. It will go for fuel for buses that run 3/4 empty, for teacher health care and retirement that is beyond what anyone else gets. Administrators who make lots of money and do little. It will go to purchasing in small batches instead of bulk, it will go for keeping the waste and abuse. In Ann Arbor a classroom with 20 students starts with over $200,000 to fund it. This is annual funding. In Ypsi the amount is around $140,000 for a 20 student room. Most class rooms have 25 students in them or even 30. Tell me please where the money goes. Books are $50 to $75 each when purchased in quantity and typically last 3 to 5 years. Fix the waste, show me you have fixed it and I will vote for this. I will happily pay for more student enhancement. But not for waste.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 1:54 p.m.

A total of 10 school districts in Washtenaw hardly indicates any type of consoldation. One way to guarantee it won't happen is to approve this millage.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 12:44 p.m.

Can someone please show me the solid research (not anecdote) that proves smaller class sizes result in better student learning? Also, can someone list the Washtenaw Couty school boards that have voted down textbook purchases? also, how old are the textbooks students will use instead? I'd also like to know what school districts have done to consolidate schools in the face of declining enrollments so I can be persuaded the millage is needed.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 12:32 p.m.

DennisP -- problem is... the districts CAN'T go to their taxpayers and request increase funding! Prop A changed all that. Isn't allowed. And all the districts will benefit from this, not just AA.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 12:06 p.m.

I'm opposed to a county-wide millage. If I don't have a vote in the makeup of the Ann Arbor School Board, I don't see why my money should go to fund their schools. If my kid can't make free use of their school resources, I don't see why my money should go towards them. The concept of what's good for Ann Arbor is good for the rest of the county only can be taken so far. Ann Arbor's local government has shown itself to be irresponsible more than once and arrogant most of the time. I don't hold anything against the children who live there and rely on the school system, but I refuse to have my money directed towards districts that have no accountability or responsibility to me. I've supported the tax and millages for my school district and will continue to do so as long as the district remains as dedicated and responsible as it has shown itself to be. There is a single elected board that has to answer to its voters/payers. This county tax will not be under the control of any single elected body that is accountable to all of the voters and taxpayers who will have to pay this millage. No one will have to be accountable to anyone for it. This is a bad idea. I will vote no and urge others to do the same.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 11:41 a.m.

Chai: "Strong schools attract good jobs? What are you talking about, man?" Strong schools attract quality employers seeking a well educated work force. That's what he is talking about. Nobody ever wants to see taxes increase that's why the schools are in the financial situation they are in. I completely agree with the need for transparency in how the funds are allocated and used once distributed to the district, but if there is one area where I would want my tax dollars to go it is to education. You have my vote!


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 11:19 a.m.

State funding for schools has remained flat or decreased for years now, Prop A means the schools are getting much less money from taxes, and health care costs continue to skyrocket. I know for a fact that the schools have been working like crazy to reduce spending and cut costs year after year. But they are at a point of no fat. There is no way to continue to cut our way out of this deficit -- especially as it represents a structural problem in regards to school funding. We do NOT want our schools to fail. People move to Ann Arbor, and stay in Ann Arbor, and raise families in Ann Arbor in a large part because of the quality of the public school system. Watch what happens when those parents see class sizes skyrocket (with all the resultant classroom management issues), arts and sports programs slashed even more than they have already been, and bare-bones services being offered. Those parents will either pull their kids and send them to charter schools, private schools, homeschool or move. Thus begins the spiral we've seen in Ypsi. We cannot afford to let our schools fail. They've done their job in cost cutting. Now we have to do ours in supporting them. It's not their fault they are so underfunded right now.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 11:17 a.m.

"Strong schools build strong communities by attracting good jobs." Strong schools attract good jobs? What are you talking about, man? Anyway, I agree with those who say the schools are underfunded. We need money in our schools, and we need it from the fed who is currently using our money to fund unnecessary wars. But if we get money, we also need autonomy to decide exactly how to use it. I would argue that a small amount like $11 million could be used to insure cost of living adjustments to support workers in the district (I drive a bus). Strong jobs attract dedicated workers and build strong communities.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 10:57 a.m.

This millage is a good thing for our children in the county. Class sizes have increased. Many districts have laid off teachers. Various sports have been cut. Programs are being cut every year. Some high schools are not ordering up-to-date textbooks because of budget cuts. If we are to educate our students for the 21st century and maintain the quality of education, allowing for electives, teacher creativity, and remediation for those who need it, we must pass this millage. We have not been able to vote on an increase in taxes since Proposal A was passed by Gov. Engler. The proposed millage is a great gift to our communities. We want people to continue to move here for the excellent schools, to bring our housing prices back up, to allow our students to get the best possible education. I will vote for it because I want my children to enjoy the electives, the smaller class sizes, the support staff like special ed teachers,school nurses, social workers, counselors, and others that help create a strong community for our students. We need not only help those students who are struggling, but also the talented students who bring our schools honor through academic excellence and athletic excellence and music excellence.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 10:10 a.m.

How about proposing a 1 mill decrease from both the AATA and the AADL. They both have a surplus. According to Ted Annis, the AATA is "awash in cash" and the AADL bid against the city in a land deal that resulted in the purchase of Dicken Woods as a nature area. AADL wanted it for speculation and as a possible site for another gold-plated library.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 9:35 a.m.

Vote no on any tax increase locally until they work harder at sharing resources and wring out waste...including the MEA and administrators going to self funded 401K style retirement systems!!


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 9:34 a.m.

I would be more inclined to vote FOR this if there were limitations and transparency on how the money is used. There is just too much fiscal irresponsibility going on today. No blank check for endless fiscal irresponsibility.


Tue, Aug 4, 2009 : 8:38 a.m.

No way, no how. If anyone thinks that 2-mills for a mere "5 years" is the limit, think again. Voting this in now means it will be in perpetuity. After 5 years, we all will be asked to "renew" this funding continuously or else the sky will fall and disaster will set in, along with any other horror story they will tell us. Meanwhile, our school districts will get a pass on any chance to reform and become more efficient, simply because they won't have to with the extra money filling their coffers. That is the real horror story. Can anyone tell me why one county has to have at least 10 school districts in it, each with its own overhead costs and administrative bureaucracy? Amazing.