A Monroe County school district hopes to get some new life after facing a setback following the November 2022 vote.
Mason Consolidated Schools will have a nonhomestead millage renewal on the ballot for a special vote in Erie Township on May 2. Last November, the renewal was defeated by 23 votes. The proposal was to renew an 18-mills, nonhomestead operating levy for the next six years, which means about $1.3 million per year for the district. The millage was last approved by voters in 2018 and expired in 2022.
One of the challenges that Mason has faced is helping people understand that the millage is a renewal and not a new tax, and, more importantly, would not cost the average homeowner any money.
As a nonhomestead millage, taxes on primary residences are not affected. Instead, the tax only applies to commercial and rental properties and vacation homes. To educate voters about the millage, the district posted a video on its YouTube page on April 13 with Superintendent Kelli Tuller offering an explanation.
“I was made aware of some confusion by voters when going to the polls in November, and it is my hope that this video will clear things up,” Tuller said.
The millage would grant additional money per student paid by the state to help schools operate, a primary means of funding for Michigan schools since 1994’s Proposal A enactment. If this millage passes, then the district will receive the full allowance from the state, at $9,150 per student. If it fails, then Mason will receive $7,808 per student.
“The state will not replace the funding, and the Mason Consolidated Schools district will be forced to reduce or eliminate instructional and support programs for our students to offset the reduction of revenue,” according to a release from the district.
Despite the setbacks handed to Mason last November, teachers and administrators were determined to press onward no matter the results. Benjamin Russow, principal at Mason Middle School, said that ultimately the teachers, staff, administration and students must work together to make a school system successful – no matter the adversity they are facing in terms of funding.
Russow also noted that, prior to the vote, Mason Middle School students had been performing exceptionally well – and it shows in their Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) scores from spring of last year.
“If you look at our percentages where we rank in Monroe County, we were first in every category except for English, where we rank third,” Russow said. “I think that’s pretty impressive.”
Russow said that, despite the setbacks, his school continues to promote student engagement and performance through programs based on extensive research and current best practices.
“As a result, the students are buying in and they’re working,” Russow said. “I think we’ve done a great job at creating a school model that supports kids.”
For more information about the millage renewal, visit eriemason.k12.mi.us/non-homestead-millage