County millage funds DHS addition, playgrounds and more

Construction equipment moves dirt outside Dearborn High

The Wayne RESA educational enhancement millage is paying for playgrounds, middle school counselors, a high school expansion and much more in Dearborn Public Schools.

The millage, approved in 2016, provides the district more than $7 million a year for six years.  The funds figure out to about $370 more per student.  For comparison, Dearborn received about $8,600 per student last year in state funding.

Dearborn Schools kept the first year’s millage to increase its fund balance.  That saves the District money every year since it no longer has to borrow money to pay summer bills.

With only two full years of the RESA millage allocated, so far Dearborn’s largest line item for the money is a much needed addition at Dearborn High School.  More than $3.2 million is budgeted for that project to add four classrooms and expand the cafeteria and kitchen.  Classrooms are expected to be ready before the second semester starts this winter.

Other top RESA millage items include more than $1.5 million for staff retention and recruitment as the teacher pool continues to shrink, $1 million for additional middle school counselors, $1.2 million for emergency and phone system upgrades, and $743,000 for playgrounds.

About $300,000 of the funds each year are also being used to offset pay-to-participate fees, so families do not have to pay a fee for a student to join after school sports and clubs.  Before the millage, the pay-to-participate fee generated about $174,000 a year for the district, but once the fee was waived student participation increased.

Close to $800,000 of the funds were also set aside to improve common areas in buildings.  That work has included upgrading sound systems in the auditoriums at Fordson, Edsel Ford and elsewhere, as well as improving entryways and other common areas in buildings.

The current budget also calls for allocating $1.5 million of the millage in a pay stipend for teachers and other staff who voluntarily took pay cut several years ago as schools faced funding cuts.

Smaller items in the millage spending list include paying stipends for teachers involved in Professional Learning Communities, increasing the pay rate for preferred substitutes, and adding money for capital projects and technology replacements.