Special Ed Millage Renewal Sought | WMUK

Special Ed Millage Renewal Sought

Apr 28, 2021

Entrance sign at the KRESA administration building in Portage
Credit Andy Robins / WMUK

Voters in nine Kalamazoo-area school districts go the polls Tuesday, May 4. They'll decide whether to renew a special education millage for six years.

Dave Campbell is the superintendent of the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency.

"It's a 1.5-mill property tax. All the money goes to the local school districts to help them pay for their special education costs."

KRESA levies the millage and sends the money to the local districts. The intermediate school district also provides services to disabled students, but Campbell says those are not covered by the millage. He says more than 80 percent of special education students are served by programs in their home districts.

Campbell says the millage raises money needed to offset a lack of funding for programs mandated by the federal government.

"Unfortunately, when the law passed in 1975, the federal government said they'd fund 40-percent of the cost. And they're up to about 17- to 18-percent of the cost now, after a long time."

Campbell says school district would have to cut general education budgets to cover the difference if voters don't approve the renewal.

Voters first approved the millage, narrowly, in 2015. But Campbell says an unpopular statewide road funding proposal was also on the ballot that year, something he says may have contributed to the close vote. This time around, he says a survey shows strong support for the renewal.

The millage costs a typical homeowner a little over nine dollars a month. Their total KRESA tax bill will actually go down slightly this year as the intermediate school district pays off a bond issue.