Local Districts Lack Funding

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

Drake is one of more than 100 special needs students in the Meadow View Program in the Eaton County Intermediate School District, he and others could have benefited from a countywide special education millage.

"It would just cover programs in large part that are required by the state and federal government, that we would offer to students who've had mental, physical, psychological needs," said Eaton ISD Superintendent Al Widner.

But the millage that would have provided $2.7 million a year wasn't passed by voters, and the impact will be felt beyond just Special Ed.

"Our constituent districts next year will again have to reduce programs and services to students and families -- in this economic environment it's extremely difficult for someone to voluntarily say yes I would like to have you increase my taxes," Widner said.

Voters also shot down a millage in St. Johns that would have extended a millage for nearly $73 million.

"School districts don't have many opportunities as they once did to pass those local bonds and millages," said Doug Pratt of the Michigan Education Association.

And on top of that Pratt says schools across the state are suffering from dwindling dollars from the state.

"A lot of this comes back to the state needing to live up to its promises under Proposal A to fully fund public education," Pratt said.

Widner couldn't agree more, he says they've already cut a $.5 million from special education, and their funding troubles stem from much more than just millages.

"Our public schools currently are being dramatically underfunded, and with a continuation of federal and state mandates, it creates this dichotomy of required programs and funds not to meet those," Widner said.

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