Superintendent: An OK maintains services, defeat would affect General Fund
Below: Ed Foundation hosts budget information sessions
From AAPSNews Service
On May 3, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District will seek a renewal of .9850 of a mill for seven years to support special education services for students in the 10 local Washtenaw County districts that it serves.
Voters first approved the millage in September 2004 and the renewal is proposed to cover the years 2011-17. The millage renewal will bring in $14 million countywide, of which $5.8 million would come to the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
“If that money goes away, we will have to find another way to fund it and that’s through the General Fund,” said Ann Arbor Interim Superintendent Robert Allen. He has given presentations explaining the impact of the millage both to the school board and at a March 21 community meeting.
Allen explained that special education services are mandated by state and federal laws and local school districts are bound also by Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, which are binding legal documents between a district and families and determine how their children will be educated.
“We look at each individual child and say ‘what is the true need?’” Allen said. “We determine what’s in the best interest for the child.”
Money from the millage will be used to continue to reimburse local school districts for special education programs and to help maintain quality services for all students, said WISD Interim Superintendent Richard Leyshock,
“We’re seeking the renewal because the demand for special education continues,” he said “And, without adequate special education millage, local districts will be required to take increasing dollar amounts from their general operating funds to provide special education programs that are required by state and federal law.”
One in seven – or an average of three students in a classroom – receive some type of special education service. Of the 16,569 students enrolled in the Ann Arbor district, 2,093 students are receiving special education services.
These include 602 students with a specific learning disability, 241 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 548 who are speech and language impaired and 124 who are emotionally impaired. Other students receiving services are those who have a cognitive impairment, severe multiple impairment, a visual or hearing impairment, some with physical or other health impairments and others who are developmentally delayed.
Last year, it cost the Ann Arbor district nearly $40 million to offer special education instruction and support services including transportation. About $20 million of that is reimbursed by the county and, of that $20 million, $5.8 million is represented in renewal being asked for on the May 3 ballot.
“It’s really an issue of what’s best for the kids,” Allen added. “The earlier you intervene, the less you’ll spend later on. And that person will become a productive member of society.”
What voters will see on the May 3 ballot:
WASHTENAW INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT
SPECIAL EDUCATION MILLAGE RENEWAL PROPOSAL
This proposal will allow the intermediate school district to levy the special education millage previously approved by the electors.
“Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by .9850 mill ($0.9850 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 7 years, 2011 to 2017, inclusive, to provide funds for the education of students with a disability (the above is a renewal of millage which expired with the 2010 tax levy); the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2011 is approximately $14,000,000?”
Ed Foundation hosts information sessions on April 15
Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation is hosting a 2011-12 budget presentation by Interim Superintendent Robert Allen from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and again from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 15.
Both sessions will be at the Ann Arbor Preschool & Family Center, 2775 Boardwalk, Ann Arbor, located north of Eisenhower. For more information or to RSVP call 734-994-1969 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.