Dearborn Public Schools will place an important operating millage renewal on the Feb. 27, 2024 ballot, which is also the presidential primary.
The Board of Education approved seeking the millage renewal during its regular meeting on Nov. 13, 2023. The question is a renewal, not a new tax.
The district’s operating millage provides $41 million, or 16 percent, of the district’s general fund. The money is used for all regular expenses including staffing, classroom supplies, curriculum materials, utility bills, busing, athletics and more. The ballot question is not a bond, which is typically used for new building renovations or construction.
If voters reject the operating millage, Dearborn Schools would have one of the lowest per pupil revenues in Michigan and would be forced to cut spending across almost all its schools and programs.
Michigan school districts have to ask voters to reapprove operating millages at least every 10 years since Proposal A passed in 1994. Proposal A changed how schools were funded, shifting them from relying mostly on local property taxes to a system mostly funded by the state.
Dearborn’s operating millage question will include two taxes – one for homeowners and one for businesses and other non-homestead properties.
Voters will be asked to continue the 18 mill tax on business, commercial, rental and other non-homestead properties. This tax is expected in every district across Michigan since Proposal A. While the state allocates a per pupil funding amount to each school district every year, each district is expected to collect a portion of that funding from local non-homestead properties. For Dearborn Public Schools, $1,717 of the district’s $9,921 total per pupil funding comes from the non-homestead tax. If the millage is not renewed, the district would end up with $7,891 in per student revenue, much less than the state’s base of $9,608 in per pupil funding.
The ballot question will also ask voters to renew a tax on homeowners. This tax rate would drop more than a third from the current maximum of 6.17 mills approved by homeowners in 2014 to a new maximum of 4 mills on the 2024 ballot. The actual rate will vary by year based on student enrollment in the district and local tax values. This fiscal year, the district is collecting 2.04 mills, and the rate is expected to settle at 2.5 mills next year. Dearborn Schools is allowed to collect $313 per student from homeowners. If the state raises the district’s per pupil foundation allowance enough, the tax on homeowners would disappear as it has in more than a dozen other school districts in the decades since Proposal A passed.
Of the $41 million generated by the operating millage, less than $7 million is from homeowners and the other $34 million is from businesses, rentals and other non-homestead property.
Voters can get more information about the operating millage in a presentation created by the district or on a new webpage dedicated to the Operating Millage Renewal at dearbornschools.org/operating-millage-renewal.
“We hope residents will gather accurate information about this critical funding for the district and then remember to vote on or before Feb. 27, 2024 during the presidential primary,” said Superintendent Glenn Maleyko.