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County funding measures wouldn't list schools receiving money, under bill in Senate

Teacher at a chalkboard
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio

If a bill headed to the state Senate becomes law, ballots could not disclose when charter schools stand to be recipients of proposed countywide school funding millages.

In February, Governor Rick Snyder signed a change in Michigan law allowing charter schools to share regional enhancement millage revenue – taxpayer money – with traditional public schools.

Currently, voters see the names of schools standing to benefit from a proposed regional enhancement millage on the ballot. If this new legislation becomes law, ballots would simply list school millage recipients – traditional public schools and charter schools – collectively as “public schools.”

Republican State Representative Jeff Noble is the bill’s sponsor. He did not return requests for comment.

Democratic State Representative Darrin Camilleri says he was opposed to the idea of charter schools sharing millage revenue with traditional public schools. He also opposed this new legislation, H.B. 5626.  

“I really believe this was an underhanded move by the Republicans to hide from the voters the fact that their regional enhancement millage dollars will be going to for-profit charter schools,” Camilleri said. “Now not only are they taking money away from traditional public schools, but then voters can’t really know where that money’s going to be going [by looking] on the ballot.”

According to the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, seven intermediate school districts in the state currently receive funding from a regional enhancement millage: Muskegon, Kent, Monroe, Kalamazoo, Midland, Charlevoix-Emmet and Wayne RESA. In Wayne County, 33 school districts and 111 charter schools can split the money.

In June 2011, Gary Miron testified before members of Congress that for-profit companies operated nearly 80% of charter schools in Michigan. Miron is a professor of Evaluation, Measurement and Research at Western Michigan University.

If H.B. 5626 became law, it's possible voters could someday vote to approve a proposed countywide school funding millage, unwittingly help fund a for-profit company with tax revenue, and never know; because the school in question wouldn’t be listed on the ballot as a millage recipient.

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