Since a 1997 law took effect allowing Intermediate School Districts to levy a tax for local school operations, voters have issued mixed verdicts, approving six measures over two decades. They were recently approved in Kent and Wayne counties. Here are four other places where voters approved regional millage increases:
Monroe ISD became the first to pass an enhanced millage, as voters approved a five-year, 0.99-mill tax increase for technology in 1997. It was renewed in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016.
Voters in the Kalamazoo RESA approved a three-year, 1.5-mill tax increase in 2005 to fund general operations for local districts. It was renewed in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017.
In the Midland ISD, voters in 2009 approved a 1.5 mill tax hike for five years to fund general operations. Voters renewed it in 2014.
Muskegon ISD voters in 2014 approved a 10-year tax hike of 1 mill for security and technology improvements in local districts.
But voters rejected millage hikes elsewhere, including:
In the Livingston Educational Service Agency east of Lansing, voters in 2005 rejected by a two-to-one margin a 3-mill tax hike for three years to fund general operations in the region’s five school districts.
In February 2013, the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District in the northeastern Lower Peninsula gambled that voters would approve the maximum increase allowed, a 3-mill tax hike for 10 years. They rejected it three to one.
A district newsletter following the election summarized the consequences: “The overall message was clearly heard. Schools must ‘make do,’ finding ways to deliver the best education possible with the resources in hand.”
Months later, Alpena Public Schools imposed a 10-percent pay cut on all district employees including administrators, teachers, custodial workers, bus drivers, instructional aide and non-union staff as it faced a budget deficit of more than $1 million.
Before that, the district closed four elementary schools and cut teaching staff from about 325 to 202 today, as enrollment fell by a third from 1994 to 2017. As a stopgap measure, it’s deferring needed maintenance on roofs and boilers and the purchase of new textbooks.