THE MILLINGTON HERALD & LAKEVILLE MESSENGER, LLC
P.O. Box 15; Millington, Michigan 48746
Established April 20, 1991 by Nathan W. Higgins
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Non-Homestead Renewal Millage Proposal F.A.Q.'s
On May 6, 2014 Millington Community Schools' voters will have the opportunity to vote on a renewal millage proposal. On the ballot will be an Operating Renewal Millage. This is a renewal only. This is not a new millage request. Below find answers to frequently asked questions:18 mills according to law.
How does this fit in to the overall school funding structure? Michigan schools are funded under a structure created in 1994 when Proposal A was approved statewide by Michigan electors. Under the structure, Michigan schools are funded with 6 mills on all properties statewide and an additional 18 mills on non-homestead property, when approved by local voters. The Non-Homestead (18 mills) is a required local effort and must be levied in order to receive the total state foundation.
I thought schools no longer received funding through property taxes, so why are we talking about millage proposals? Funding for school districts changed significantly in 1994 when Proposal A was passed by the Michigan voters. Under Proposal A, the State pays the majority of the cost, but to receive full funding, schools must levy 18 mills on non-homestead properties in their school districts.
What does "Non-Homestead" mean? Non-Homestead properties are industrial, commercial, some agricultural, and non- primary residences or "second homes." It does not include a family's primary residence.
What is the current rate for the millage and expiration? The current non-homestead millage is 18.0000 mills and expires in 2014.
Is this a new tax? No. The non-homestead operating millage was approved by the voters in the community in 1994 and has been renewed since then. The District has voter approval to levy 18 mills on non-homestead property through December 2014.
How much will this cost my business? This is not a new tax. It is a renewal and the tax will be 18 mills according to law.
Will my residential school taxes increase? No. This tax is on non- homestead property and does not apply to your primary place of residence.
What if the millage is voted down? The revenue generated from the 18 mills totals about $635,275 or about 6% of the school district's budget. If this millage does not pass, the State will not replace the funding and the District will be forced to reduce or cut programs to offset the loss.
Where can I read the ballot language? Please visit the Millington Community Schools web page for the ballot language and other information.
MILLINGTON SCHOOL FACTS
These questions and answers are being provided to present the facts relating to the organizational format in the Millington Community Schools. Many inaccurate statements are being circulated and it is hoped that the facts will clarify the misinformation.
1. Why are the Millington Schools proposing to share services with the Vassar Public Schools?
Answer: Like most school districts in Michigan, Millington must reduce their costs. The goal of the Board of Education is to balance the budget and try to do it with as little impact on the instructional program as possible. Last year the District reduced expenditures by $1,200,000.00 through inventive and innovative methods. The District must reduce costs for the 2014- 2015 by about $750,000.00. School funding depends on the Michigan Legislature and enrollment. The District must have a balanced budget by June 30th. Often districts don't know what their revenues are until their student count in September. By sharing services, it is hoped that programs for students will be able to be maintained.
2. Why was there a change in principals (Mr. Yorke and Mr. Bearss)?
Answer: The Board looked at the skills and job performance of many and it was determined that the two administrators mentioned would be more beneficial in their new roles. Also, to reduce costs Meachum is being closed and a principal was no longer needed. The Board wanted to treat these administrators in a fair manner and felt they could serve the district in different positions.
3. Why is the District proposing to eliminate the Head Start and GSRP programs?
Answer: The Board is not proposing to eliminate either of these programs. We have merely notified the programs that the current space used by these programs will be needed for Millington Community School programs. The closing of Meachum will see grades 4 and 5 moving to Kirk. There is no room to continue to house some of the programs that are not Millington Community School programs. Millington is assisting in finding a new location for these programs.
4. What are the savings?
Answer: Some are still being calculated and there is a need to look at more options. By sharing the superintendent the savings are around $44,000.00 in terms of a total wage and benefit package that would need to be paid to a full-time superintendent. It has not yet been determined how certain areas of school operations will be staffed but it is accurate to assume that a full-time high school principal would cost about $161,000 with wages and benefits. This depends on the experience and education of the candidate but this is a very solid estimate. Sharing the high school principal with Vassar will cost Millington $65,000.00. Sharing our technology director and the tech para pro with Vassar saves Millington $50,000.00. Closing Meachum will save $227,000.00. Eliminating ninth grade sports saves $23,000.00.
5. Will there be any personnel reductions from the current employee group?
Answer: The Board is hoping to hold personnel reductions to a minimum. This is why the sharing with Vassar was considered. Even with these shared programs it is likely that there will be layoffs but the Board is committed to keeping these options as a last resort.
6. Why are the schools across the state in such terrible financial shape?
Answer: From 2010 through our present year 2014 the Millington Community Schools have had their funding reduced by $1,720,933.00. This reduction is due to the failure of the Michigan Legislature to properly fund public education. The Governor has determined that tax breaks for the private business sector would be done by reducing the amount of money dedicated to education. Also, the K-12 appropriation bill had over $200,000,000.00 redirected to higher education which is clearly a violation of the legislative definition of K-12 appropriations. Those schools who are proactive like Millington have taken swift and decisive action to address these shortfalls and have tired to do so without impacting programs for students. Many districts who were not proactive have been under the supervision of the State and have had to develop specific deficit reduction plans. Many neighboring districts are in critical financial situations. Across the state of Michigan it is estimated that close to 100 districts are in a dire financial situation. The Millington Board is trying to be frugal and inventive at the same time. The Board's goal is to avoid impacting student programs as much as possible.
7. What is the role of the consultant?
Answer: Our consultant has over 30 years in education and has been a successful superintendent for over 16 years. The Board approached him to assist with the transition to the District when there was a change in superintendents following the departure of Mr. Kroswek. Over the past several years the management function in education has become quite complex and many districts now use consultant services. The Millington consultant is also a senior consultant with the Michigan Association of School Boards and has been involved in helping districts solve complex problems for several years. He was also a county administrator following his education career and assisted the County in resolving a $2,000,000.00 budget shortfall. Following the departure of Mr. Berlin he was asked to assist the District in the role of superintendent.
8. There are many rumors and the facts about the cuts and the shared services are getting lost in all the misinformation. What can be done about that?
Answer: The Board has some very tough decisions to make and unfortunately some people are allowing emotions to overtake reason. If any person would like more information that is factual please call the superintendent or the Board president. The Board recognizes that much of the discussion taking place is not true and a small number of people do not attempt to get the facts. The superintendent or any School Board member would be happy to provide accurate and factual answers to any questions that may need to be addressed.
9. Why is Millington having such major problems?
Answer: It is not just Millington but let us take a look at some historical facts. Proposal A was approved by the voters in 1994. It was funded by a 2% increase in the sales tax and the sales tax went from 4 cents on the dollar to 6 cents on the dollar. The additional 2 cents was dedicated to the K-12 appropriation line item in the general fund/general purpose State budget. The purpose of Proposal A was to make educational funding more equitable and balanced state wide. To some extent it did that. Districts, such as Millington, were funded at around $3,000.00 per pupil and wealthy districts has as much as $12,000.00 per pupil. Thus there was a great inequity with the old state funding formula. Prior to Proposal A funding for schools was largely from local property taxes and only 30% of the funding came from the State. Now 6 mills on the primary residence tax is distributed to the State which creates a funding formula that the State now controls with 70% of the funding for schools still being paid by local taxpayers but the distribution is controlled by the State.
10. Is Proposal A working?
Answer: If the economy is strong and consumer spending is strong then sales tax dollars are coming into the state treasury. There is another part of the equation that needs to be examined. In 1977 the Millington High School had around 900 students in the 9-12 grades. Now there are only about 457 students in these grades. Each student is funded at approximately $7,200.00. The enrollment decline in the state has been dramatic, as is also the case in Millington. As economic conditions plummeted, due to the recent recession there was a decline in manufacturing throughout the state. General Motors had 80,000 employees in the immediate area in 1974. Today they have fewer than 10,000. So, the double trouble for schools is the declining economic structure and the loss of enrollment. The State reduced per pupil funding and over the last 4 years Millington has lost $1,720,933.00 due to reductions in State funding per pupil. Combine that with a loss of about 40 students a year and you have a perfect storm. That is what is currently happening here and around the state. Proposal A was working to provide equity and balance but it has not been revised since it was implemented. There are discussions taking place on how to solve this problem but no definitive action is in sight.
11. Why is Meachum being closed?
Answer: The District has experienced massive enrollment decline. Currently there is space available to accommodate the entire enrollment in Kirk and the Jr. Sr. High School. If Meachum is closed it would save the District $227,000.00. With Meachum our current facilities can house 2,355 students. Our current enrollment is 1,337 students. We do not need to operate all our facilities thus the decision to close Meachum allowed for savings without impacting student programs. As one can see, we have more facilities than we need. This approach was determined to be a responsible avenue to examine.
12. Will the budget be balanced?
Answer: There is no choice. Public Act 621 as amended requires specific account- ing procedures and school districts must present and adopt a balanced budget by June 30, 2014. The reason the Board is making these adjustments is to be able to produce a balanced budget that is required by law. Those districts who cannot produce a balanced budget then must be supervised by the Michigan Department of Education and the Department of the Treasury. If the problem continues the District could be moved to an emergency status.
13. How long will this shared concept be in effect?
Answer: The intent is to examine the viability of the concept through the 2014- 2015 year. It has only been agreed to by the parties for the one-year period.
14. Are other districts doing this and how is it working?
Answer: There are school districts across the state that are engaged in sharing services. Several are using the shared superintendent concept. Many are sharing other academic and non-academic services. The Vassar and Millington collaborative effort will be examined closely to ensure success. These are two districts and the concept of service sharing will be evaluated closely.
15. What would need to be done if we did not pursue the collaborative effort with Vassar?
Answer: In order to have a balanced budget as is required by the State the Millington Community Schools would need to make massive reductions that would greatly impact programs for students. The sharing concept was the least invasive of all the reduction options. The Board worked hard to explore all options. The sharing of services still allowed programs to be available for students and generated cost savings.
16. Why is there so much rumor and misinformation about this matter?
Answer: Unfortunately there are those who either don't understand or don't want to understand and that no solution is perfect. If the dollars are not there the Board is the responsible governing body to ensure that fiscal integrity and their fiduciary function is in place. The reason for this Q and A document is to provide the correct and accurate information which is based on fact and not on emotion and innuendo. Responsible people want facts not statements that have no basis in fact. There is a great deal of inaccurate information. Please feel free to contact the superintendent or a board member if there is a question that is not addressed in this summary. (Millington Superintendent Office is 989-871-5201).
President Board of Education
Millington Community Schools
LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Millington Community School District
Operating Millage Renewal Proposal
This proposal will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance and renews millage that will expire with the 2014 tax levy.
Shall the currently authorized millage rate limitation of 18 mills ($18 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Millington Community School District, Tuscola and Genesee Counties, Michigan, be renewed for a period of 6 years, 2015 to 2020, inclusive, to provide funds for operating purposes; if approved, the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect the first year of levy, 2015, is approximately $635,275 (this is a renewal of millage which will expire with the 2014 tax levy)?
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