Parents, community members and educators need to take action to stop legislation giving for-profit charter schools a cut of millages that voters approve to supplement funding for neighborhood public schools.
SB 574 would require money from regional enhancement millages to be given to charter and virtual schools located in the communities that approve the additional taxes. Enhancement millages are regional tax levies approved by voters within a region and administered by intermediate school districts.
Under SB 574, the money raised would have to be split with charter schools that exist in the region and virtual schools that are headquartered within its boundaries. Six regions currently have enhancement millages through these ISD’s: Wayne-RESA, Kalamazoo, Kent, Midland, Monroe, and Muskegon.
The bill passed the State Senate this week and now heads to the House for further consideration and debate. State Representatives need to hear now from constituents – especially parents – to oppose this new money grab being pushed by for-profit charter and cyber schools.
- According to the Senate Fiscal Agency’s analysis, it is not clear that the bill isn’t retroactive – meaning that the districts that have already passed enhancement millages might lose part of their money. It certainly would have a major impact on new millages and renewals. As an example, in Wayne County, a 10-year enhancement millage shared by 33 public school districts would have to be split with 100 charter schools, under the proposal.
- About 83 percent of Michigan charter schools are for-profit businesses operated by unaccountable boards of directors with little or no financial transparency to allow the public to see how tax money is spent. If this bill passed, there’s no guarantee that students would see any of this money – it could go to pad corporate profits and CEO salaries without any say-so from taxpayers
- Cyber schools could profit from this by simply relocating their office to an area with an enhancement millage – increasing their already lucrative game of getting full-funding for students despite having significantly lower operating costs.
- School administrators opposed to the change point out that most charter schools also do not bear similar costs for transportation, special education, and employee pension payments as traditional public schools do. That’s why many communities choose to pass these enhancement millages to support their neighborhood schools.
Parents, educators and other taxpayers do not want more money taken from neighborhood public schools to fund unaccountable for-profit charters. State Representatives need to hear right away from opponents of SB 574 to stop this latest money grab from becoming a reality.