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Kent Intermediate School District Regional Enhancement Millage Proposal

Election date: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What is “Strong Schools, Strong Communities?”

Strong Schools, Strong Communities is the name given to a regional enhancement millage proposal that will appear on the
May 2, 2017 ballot.

In December 2016, each of the 20 public school district boards of education served by the Kent Intermediate School District (Kent ISD) passed a resolution requesting the Kent ISD Board of Education place the regional enhancement millage proposal on the May 2017 ballot. The Kent ISD Board approved the local districts’ request, therefore, the proposal will appear on the May ballot.  If approved, revenues would be distributed to the 20 school districts to make up for shortfalls in funding by the State.

Please read below for detailed information or see the summary to the right.  Thank you for taking the time to learn more about this proposal.

Enhancement Millage Image

Millage Proposal At a Glance

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What every taxpayer should know about this enhancement millage

  • Voters in each of the 20 Kent ISD public school districts will be asked to consider an enhancement millage proposal of 0.9 mill for 10 years.
  • A majority of voters within Kent ISD would need to approve the proposal for it to pass.
  • An enhancement millage is the only option for school districts to request operational funding from the public beyond funding provided by the State.
  • Since 2008-09, State funding has not kept up with inflation, causing districts to reduce or eliminate programs, classroom materials and staff.  Please see the chart below under “Infographics.”
  • If approved, each of the 20 public school districts within Kent ISD would receive an additional $211 per student for operations starting with the 2017-18 school year.  For RPS, this would mean approximately $1.7 million annually for each of the next 10 years.
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Commonly-asked questions about the enhancement millage

When the legislature drafted a new funding formula for public schools in 1993 (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 mills for 20 years or less to be distributed on a per-pupil basis to every constituent school district within that ISD.

The law does not allow individual school districts to ask voters for additional operating revenues.  A regional enhancement millage levied, collected and distributed equally to each school district on a per-pupil basis is the only way districts can receive these additional funds.

School districts have two primary sources of funding:  operating revenue and bond issues.  Bond issues, which are levied by individual school districts for capital expenditures, generally fund building construction, expansion and repairs. Operating revenues, on the other hand, come primarily from the state through the “foundation grant” (per-pupil allowance) allocated to each district.  These state dollars are generated through the 6-mill state education tax on primary homes and the 18-mill non-homestead tax levy on businesses and secondary homes.   An enhancement millage, such as this proposal, is the only other method by which districts can receive additional revenues for school operations.

We have all have seen the purchasing power of state revenue decline over the past decade.  A January 2016 report from the House Fiscal Agency (page 17) found school revenues, adjusted for inflation, are 6 percent less today than in 2000.

Because the purchasing power of their revenues has declined, districts have had to cut millions in expenses which is now making it difficult to provide the core educational services necessary for all students to succeed.   A recent study commissioned by the Michigan Legislature found that every district should receive $8,667 per pupil, which is well above what most districts currently receive in state funding.  That report also recommended much higher spending to compensate for the additional needs of at-risk students and English Language Learners, as these students require far greater attention and support services than most other students.

In addition, a three-year study by the Michigan State University Policy Institute released in June 2016 found that Michigan school districts face financial hardship based on factors almost entirely outside of their control.  Chief among those factors were inadequate state funding, declining enrollment and the increasing number of students with special needs.

In order to maintain a balanced budget and be fiscally responsible, RPS has made the following budget adjustments since 2009.  These cost savings measures have helped to offset the added cost of all-day every day kindergarten.

  • Teacher and administrator reductions
  • Elimination of in-school suspension
  • Support staffing and hours reductions
  • Classroom materials reductions

If approved, each district would receive $211 per student enrolled. For RPS, this would mean about $1.7 million for the first year.  The funds would allow RPS to:

  • Maintain current educational opportunities for students
  • Stabilize and/or reduce class sizes
  • Attract and retain quality staff
  • Expand early college programs for high school students
  • Increase technology support staff

Plus, this proposal would expand career training and technical course offerings to give students real life, on-the-job training and a head start on their careers. It would also give students exposure to the world of work and partnerships with businesses to prepare them for college or careers. Additionally, the proposal gives students living in poverty a good start, and surrounds them with the support needed to keep them in school.

All spending of these funds will be audited independently each year and spending will be disclosed on our website to ensure accountability and transparency.

For the purpose of calculating a property tax increase, one mill is equal to one dollar per $1,000 of the taxable value of a home.  Because the enhancement millage proposal is for 0.9 mill, this means the proposal would be calculated based on 90 cents per $1,000 taxable value.

Home Value       Taxable Value               0.9 Enhancement Millage Calculation

$100,000            $50,000 or less             50×0.9 = $45

$200,000            $100,000 or less          100×0.9 = $90

$300,000            $150,000 or less          150×0.9 = $135

Enhancement funding would end unless local boards of education again petition the Kent Intermediate School District to seek a renewal.

Yes.  If passed and you qualify, your tax burden may be reduced.

You may claim a property tax credit if all of the following apply, beginning in 2012:

  • Your homestead is in Michigan.
  • You were a resident of Michigan for at least six months during the year.
  • You own or are contracted to pay rent and occupy a Michigan homestead on which property taxes were levied.
  • If you own your home, your taxable value is $135,000 or less.
  • Your total household resources are $50,000 or less. Part year residents must annualize total household resources to determine if a credit reduction applies.

You may claim a property tax credit if all of the following apply for 2011 and prior years:

  • Your homestead is in Michigan.
  • You were a resident of Michigan for at least six months during the year.
  • You own or are contracted to pay rent and occupy a Michigan homestead on which property taxes were levied.
  • Your household income is $82,650 or less.  Part year residents must annualize household income to determine if a credit reduction applies.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Shibler welcomes any questions you may have.  Feel free to contact him at 616.863.6557 or mshibler@rockfordschools.org.

You are also welcome to attend any of the remaining public meetings being held.

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Ballot and voting information

KENT INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT
REGIONAL ENHANCEMENT MILLAGE PROPOSAL

Pursuant to state law, the revenue raised by the proposed millage will be collected by the intermediate school district and distributed wholly and completely to local public school districts based on pupil membership count.

Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Kent Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by .9 mill ($0.90 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 10 years, 2017 and 2026, inclusive, to provide operating funds to enhance other state and local funding for local school district operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2017 is approximately $19,931,466, which funds will be disbursed wholly and completely as required by statue to the following school districts: Byron Center Public Schools, Caledonia Community Schools, Cedar Springs Public Schools, Comstock Park Public Schools, East Grand Rapids Public Schools, Forest Hills Public Schools, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, Godwin Heights Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grandville Public Schools, Kelloggsville Public School District, Kenowa Hills Public Schools, Kent City Community Schools, Kentwood Public Schools, Lowell Area Schools, Northview Public Schools, Rockford Public Schools, Sparta Area Schools, Thornapple Kellogg Schools, and Wyoming Public Schools?

Polling locations are determined by your local city/township office. If you are unsure of your polling place, please contact them directly.

Polls will be open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Apply for an absentee ballot.  (AV ballots will be available starting Saturday, March 18, 2017)

View a sample ballot, track the status of an absentee ballot, or verify your voter registration

 

Last day to register to vote in this election:  Monday, April 3, 2017

 

 

Rockford ram log, with Rockford Public Schools wrapping hover its head

For additional information, please contact
Michael S. Shibler, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, at 616.863.6557, or mshibler@rockfordschools.org