by Scott McClallen
Despite boasts of record state school spending amid declining school populations, many of Michigan’s local ballots next week will feature school sinking funds, millage renewals, or millage increases.
Michigan’s more than 850 school districts received about $6 billion of federal COVID funds, but in many cases, it’s unclear how the districts spent or plan to spend the money.
The Center Square has been filing Freedom of Information Act requests seeking school districts spending plans.
More than 15 schools statewide are seeking additional funds from taxpayers to serve fewer students statewide over two decades. For example, in the 2010-11 school year, Michigan public schools boasted 1.6 million students. But 12 years later, that number is now 1.4 million – 158,668 fewer students.
Schools seeking millages include the following:
- Clio Area Schools seeks more than $3 million for operating costs by renewing the operating millage from 18 mills to 19.4637 mills for 10 years. The district seeks to levy a .75 mill increase to raise $461,930 in 2023 and last for 10 years to fund aging infrastructure, security, technology and building repairs.
In 2020, Genesee County voters approved Clio Area Schools spending $40.6 million in state qualified school bonds to renovate Garner Elementary school and other improvements, according to the State of Michigan.
- Lake Fenton Community Schools wants voters to renew its site sinking fund millage set to expire in 2022. It’s a 10-year millage that will levy .9846 mills, raising about $693,679 in its first year.
In 2017, Genesee County voters approved spending $11.7 million on capital improvements at LFCS.
- The Wayland Union School District seeks to borrow up to $48.5 million and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds for capital improvements.
In November 2017, Allegan County voters approved raising $19.2 million in school bonds for WUSD capital improvement.
In May of 2017, those voters rejected a proposal to raise $34.1 million in capital improvements.
- Cassopolis Public Schools seeks a sinking fund millage of $483,757 in 2023 for capital improvements for 10 years.
In 2010, Cass County voters approved a proposal to spend $16 million renovating an elementary school for CPS
- Edwardsburg Public Schools seeks a bonding proposal to borrow up to $59.6 million issue general obligation unlimited tax bonds to fund a new building and capital improvements.
In 1998, Cass County voters approved a proposal to borrow up to $15.9 million on EPS building renovations.
- Fennville Public Schools seeks to renew an operating millage of 17.7 mills for two years, and increase by .5 mill for two years to fund operational costs. If approved, the school district will collect just over $3 million.
- FPS also seeks to renew a sinking fund millage proposal of 0.4867 mill and increase it by .0133 mill for a total of .5 mill, for 10 years to fund capital improvements. If approved, the mill would collect about $218,674 in 2023.
In 2017, Allegan County voters approved an FPS proposal to spend up to $23 million on building renovations.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Cassopolis Public Schools” by Cassopolis Public Schools.