December 3, 2016

ISD faces tough choices after millage increase failure

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STANDISH – With the failure of the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District special education millage increase, schools in the ISD are facing tough budgetary choices going forward, according to Superintendent Michael Dewey.

Voters made their decision Nov. 8 with 8,608 votes against and 5,645 votes for in Arenac, Bay, and Gladwin counties. Dewey said since special education is mandated and required by law, without the additional funding the millage would have provided, schools are going to have to fund special education with money from other parts of their budget, most notably the general fund.

“Local districts will have to decide where to get the money from,” he said.

The one mill increase would have raised an estimated $3,496,018 over 20 years to help offset special education costs, though Dewey said that for Arenac County schools in Standish, Arenac Eastern, and AuGres, the number would have been just over $300,000.

Dewey said local school districts would need to support a future millage increase for the ISD school board to even put it on their agenda. Before that, each district would need to “see how their own people voted.” He said he did not see such a millage coming up again anytime soon.

The millage results were reported at the Standish-Sterling Community Schools Board of Education’s Nov. 9 meeting. Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said that the result of the failed millage would be that not much would change from previous years.

“It will continue as it has been,” Kroczaleski said. “More general fund money will go to special education due to the state’s failure to properly fund it.”

Though Dewey said that the ISD board has not yet even discussed the millage and why it failed, he said that the ISD would continue to do its best to support the education of students in their districts.

“I was optimistic, and was disappointed that it didn’t pass,” said Dewey. “But that over 5,300 people supported it, I think in these economic times says a lot.”

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