Local School Districts Put Proposals on Tuesday Ballot

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

With four grandkids in Williamston Schools, the decision to vote 'Yes' on a sinking fund is easy for Mavis Halvorson.

"I can see where there are a lot of repairs that need to be done to make our schools safe for our children," she said.

But not everyone shares that opinion. In fact, another woman in Halvorson's neighborhood, who has kids in the district, told us she doesn't plan on voting for the sinking fund because, frankly, it just doesn't interest her.

Unfortunately, for school districts, the latter opinion is one that a lot of voters tend to take.

"It's very difficult right now for schools to convince community members that this is something they need to invest in," said Kathy Hayes, Executive Director for the Michigan Association of School Boards.

Investing can take the form of anything from bond proposals, which are for major upgrades and entirely new facilities, to millage renewals or sinking funds, which take care of much-needed repairs that can't be ignored.

Ingham Intermediate School District Superintendent Stan Kogut says many times, a 'No' vote means the money comes from classroom cuts.

"If you can't put that new roof on, the only way to put that new roof on is by laying off staff," said Kogut. "That impacts the child in the classroom."

But if you don't have kids in school, why should you pay for upgrades and repairs? Hayes says the answer is simple, strong schools mean a strong community.

"If you have really good quality schools, it'll attract businesses, it'll attract people looking to move into the area," she said.

It's a boost to the economy that could, in the end, boost your bank account.

"You may pay a little bit more for taxes, but your house could actually be valued higher because you have a good school system," she said.

Other schools with proposals on the ballot for Tuesday include, Okemos, Perry, Webberville and Columbia.

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