Voters will be asked on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 to consider a question that would renew and restore the long-standing special education millage for the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District.
The proposed millage would be for 1.4958 mills generating $8.7 million in special education operational funding. This represents a renewal of 1.1499 mills combined with the restoration of 0.3459 mills that were rolled back in accordance with the Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution of 1963. “What this accomplishes is continuing the ability of the ISD to provide special education programs and services for the students of Charlevoix-Emmet ISD, the local school districts, and academies. It was originally approved in 1981 and has been renewed every 4 years ever since. If passed, this proposal would also restore the erosion of rollbacks back to the original millage rate previously approved by the voters,” said Jeff Crouse, Superintendent of Charlevoix-Emmet ISD.
If approved, the millage would be in place for the next four years. For a home with a market value of $100,000 it would cost the taxpayer less than $75 a year. Current special education costs throughout the 11 local districts and 3 academies are about $18.3 million, so these special education operating dollars fill a great share of that need (roughly 48%), while state, federal, and other local dollars support the remaining costs, Crouse said.
Crouse said the funding from the millage goes both directly to the local schools and academies to reimburse some of their special education expenses, as well as to the Charlevoix-Emmet ISD to support 15 special needs programs operated by the ISD, that serve students with the most significant disabilities.
It is also used for specialized training of teachers in local schools, evaluation services to determine eligibility for special education services, as well as transportation services for students who attend Char-Em programs and have highly specialized transportation needs.
“This millage directly impacts more than 1,200 children with special needs in our service area. That includes all the schools in Charlevoix County, all the schools in Emmet County and schools in northern Antrim County,” Crouse indicated. “Special education services are provided beginning at birth until age 26 by Michigan law. We provide those children and young adults with special needs the opportunity to achieve at their highest levels.”
Local district leaders understand these specialized education services are legally mandated and without the proposed millage, they would be forced to shift money from other areas of their budgets to cover the potential $8.7 million hole, Crouse added.
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