Michigan public schools in financial straits and failing to make headway in their efforts to wring more revenue out of Lansing could consider this idea: asking local voters to approve a school operating millage.
Although seldom sought since voters approved the statewide school funding overhaul called Proposal A in 1994, public schools can legally seek more money from local property owners if they do so collectively. The limit they can ask for is 3 mills ($1 for every $1,000 of taxable property value), levied across an intermediate or regional school district. In most instances, that means countywide.
The reason that few so-called enhancement-millage elections have been held since ’94 is that getting countywide approval for a tax hike is difficult. Schools would share the revenue raised based on how many students their schools have.
Ron Fuller, superintendent of the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency, said schools won’t know if voters might go along unless they ask. He represents one of the very few areas to win an enhancement-millage election in 2005.