Voters in the COOR ISD will decide two proposals to restore funding levels
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Voters in the Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Intermediate School District (COOR ISD) will decide a pair of funding proposals on the Tuesday, March 10 presidential primary ballot to restore funding to where it was 52 years ago.
The first proposal would restore the COOR ISD’s special education millage by .1171 mill on each $1,000 of taxable valuation. The second proposal would restore the COOR ISD’s general education operating millage by 0.047 mill on each $1,000 of taxable valuation.
The proposals are aimed at restoring funds, which were first established when the COOR ISD was chartered in 1968, to account for the Headlee Amendment. The Headlee Amendment requires municipalities, school districts, and intermediate school districts to reduce the millages they collect each year to account for inflation.
The proposal for the special education millage would be restored to .75 mill from the current .6329 mill rate. The general education proposal would be restored to .3 mill from a .2530 mill levy.
“COOR Intermediate School District acts as a link between the Michigan Department of Education and local school districts. The ISD provides special education, career and technical education, early childhood, and general education programs and services. This four-county area comprises the second-largest region serviced by any ISD in the state (square miles) and serves about 7,500 students in the local school districts,” according to www.coorisd.net.
In the Crawford AuSable School District, the COOR ISD provides services to 1,589 students, the second largest population of students the ISD serves within its district.
Despite covering a vast area, the COOR ISD brings in less revenues compared to other ISDs.
“We’re either at the lowest or at the bottom,” said Shawn Petri, the superintendent for the COOR ISD.
The millage would be collected for 10 years, and would be revisited at the time depending on funding and the demand for services.
“I don’t want it to be forever,” Petri said.
One misconception Petri would like to clear up is funding does not just go for students who attended the special education center based is Roscommon.
In contrast, the millages pay for services for students in all four counties who are part of the general education student population.
The special education millage goes for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
The general education proposal would pay for career tech education, curriculum development, and other services the ISD provides.
The millages also go toward transportation costs for the ISD.
If approved, the special education millage would increase by $366,849 per year, while the general education millage would increase by $147,241.
For a homeowner with a $100,000 home, which is taxed at state equalized value of $50,000, the special education millage would cost $5.86 in increased taxes per year. The general education millage would cost a homeowner at the same taxable evaluation an increase of $2.35 in taxes per year.
Petri said ISD officials are aimed at living within their means, while still providing enhanced education opportunities to students.
“I don’t like going to the tax base and taking a ton of money,” he said.
If the millages are approved, local school districts could stop the practice of billing back the ISD for services provided in the individual schools.
“What the difference is the local districts get to use that money somewhere else in their general fund budgets,” Petri said.
If voters approve the millages, it would save all school districts in the ISD on operational costs across the board.
“We really want to take care of many schools as we can and this covers all four counties that are within the district,” Petri said.