Failure of Special Education Millage Proves Divisive for Macomb Voters
Comments left on the Macomb Patch website and Facebook page in the last 24 hours show township voters divided on the issue of special education funding.
The polls have closed and the millage rejected, but the issue of funding for special education programs in local districts is still sparking commentary among Macomb Township voters on the Macomb Patch website and Facebook page.
At the township level, the 1.2-mill property tax proposal, also known as the special education enhancement millage, passed by a vote of 5,120 to 4,705–one of the closer races in the county.
Opponents of the millage maintain it was the proposed increase in taxes rather than the need for special education programs that prompted their “No” vote, but supporters argue the millage’s failure had more to do with a lack of confidence in public education.
In any case, comments made for and against the millage suggest the issue of school funding is a divisive one in Macomb Township.
“When public school systems go down the drain because the government doesn't care enough about education and the only choice is private or charter schools then you will see the value of public education,” John Adams wrote on Patch. “People that voted no to this millage...don't have a clue what students' needs are and the services that are vital in helping students on a daily basis.”
Reader Joe Wier took an opposing view.
“This did not need to pass,” Wier wrote on Patch. “Many school districts in Macomb County are not fiscally responsible. I see so many districts remodeling and erecting new buildings despite a shortage of funds. The district I live in managed major renovations, new athletic fields and many other improvements while still having a cash surplus. Oh sorry I failed to mention it did so with out any raises to its current millage.”
Other readers took a strict dollars and cents view of the issue, foregoing comments on the organization of public education or need for more fiscal responsibility.
“The people have spoken,” wrote Chris Judnick on Facebook. “We just don't have money to give.”
L’Anse Creuse North student James Coller agreed.
“(People) did not want to pay any extra money, especially in a time when families are living paycheck to paycheck, such as mine,” he wrote on Facebook. “While it may not seem like a lot of money, around $100 per year may mean the difference between a few more meals or a couple of extra tanks of gas to get food and to go to doctors. It makes a difference.”
However, readers like Susan Formento Buffa and Kelly Gendernelle found the millage’s proposed $100-$200 tax increase a “small price to pay to make sure that ALL students are provided a equal public education,” Gendernelle wrote.
“People have no clue,” Buffa replied. “They will spend more this year eating out but they won't spend it for public schools. So sad.”
Rejected by 52.3 percent of Macomb County residents, the millage will not be levied in 2011, but reduced state and federal funding and lower property values will likely lead local districts to propose a similar millage in the future.
Local districts and the Macomb Intermediate School District have yet to comment on how the failure of this millage will affect special education programs this year and next.