2009-02-14 / Top News

Island School Board To Request Rate of 7.4 Mills for 'Cushion'

Collected Rate Likely To Remain at Current 7.1 Mills, Say School Board Members
By Ryan Schlehuber

Mackinac Island voters, in the May 5 general election, will be asked to renew a fiveyear, non-homestead millage of 7.4 mills for the operation of Mackinac Island Public School. The school board said at its January 22 meeting, when it decided on the millage rate, that it expects to collect only 7.1 mills, but wants to be able to collect up to 7.4 mills if it's needed in future without having to hold another election.

The current 7.1 mill levy expires June 30. It is levied on businesses and second homes. Homestead properties are exempt.

One mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 of a property's taxable value. A cottage with a taxable value of $250,000 would pay $1,850 in taxes for 7.4 mills.

The 7.4 mills would raise $1,231,473 for the school's 2009-10 school year. The board had the option of recommending as low as 7.1 mills or as high as 7.8 mills, said School Superintendent Roger Schrock. The school currently collects 7.1 mills.

"Setting it at 7.4 mills give us a little bit of cushion for the next five years," said Trustee Sara Chambers. "With what's going on with the economy, we'll have a little bit of a leeway in case we need it."

The board has, for the past several years, tried to lower the millage whenever possible, and that trend will continue, said Board President Ben Mosley.

"We want to keep it at 7.1 mills," he said. "We try to only use what we need to keep the school afloat, but by asking for 7.4 mills it will allow us, if we need to go over 7.1, to bump up the millage without having to hold another election."

A new millage would be seen on tax bills next winter.

Noting that the 5-year millage passed by voters in 2004 was also for 7.4 mills, Dr. Schrock noted, "This is not a raise in the millage, this is just a renewal. That's one thing I hope our voters understand."

That year, 7.4 mills raised $1,069,238.

The board approved City Clerk Karen Lennard as the election coordinator for the school election May 5.

The school's new improvement team, chaired by Paul Wandrie, a parent and former trustee, made its first official report to the board since being formed earlier this winter by Mr. Mosley. The committee met for the first time Wednesday, January 14, establishing general goals and missions and is now creating a survey to solicit suggestions for improvements.

Michigan school districts are required under Public Act 25 of 1990 to develop three- to five-year improvement plans. They use these plans as a blueprint to establish goals and objectives such as resource allocation, staff development, and data management and assessment.

The team can use the Michigan Department of Education's Improvement Framework program as a guide, as it provides an organized layout for review processes and discussion points.

"We have a real diverse group on the team," said Mr. Mosley. "There is a variety of different backgrounds represented on the team, and I've even tried to get as many people from different parts of the Island on the team as possible to really give a broad spectrum."

The committee includes board member Larry Rickley, Dr. Schrock, parents Jack Armstrong, Erin Beck, Wendy Nicewander, and Urvana Morse, and, student Shelbie Mosley, a junior representing the student body.

Mr. Mosley said he admires Mr. Wandrie and is happy to have him as chairman of improvement committee.

"I hold him in high regard," said Mr. Mosley. "He is one of the most respectable men I've known in my life."

The team plans to meet at the school once a month for now, and then quarterly after May.

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