Let's begin with the reality. At first glance, the knee jerk reaction to any millage request is that we're taxed to death and we don't want more. Understood. However, the investment in our education system has to remain the priority and to make sure that the schools are given the minimum of what they need to achieve the best outcome for their students and staff is what needs to be considered. Some of what you may have heard and seen online is the usual grumblings of those who are anti everything, it's pretty clear they are not going away anytime soon, but the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District isn't on the ballot this coming May 3rd asking for such a small increase for any other reason than the simple fact that it's very much needed to help support the special needs kids, but it goes on to support the students as a whole too. How does that work? Here we go.
The need that is being asked to be filled isn't a big one. The goal is an additional $390 per student per district and the districts can decide how the funding gets spent. If you have a $200,000 house, it's going to cost $175 bucks more a year and that will go on for the next 10 years. It's a drop in the bucket to the average homeowner. While the cost of special education requirements is mandated from the state, they do not provide funding to help achieve that mandated cost and if one of the school districts need to make the required accommodations for a kid who needs a little more help. Well.....that funding has to be taken away from another area of the schools. It's really as simple as we can make it to explain the necessity of this request for funding as well as highlight what the schools have to face when it comes to funding issues. The idea of taking something away from one need in the school to plug a hole in another is a pretty stalled way of thinking and repeating patterns that don't work while expecting a different result, that's the definition of insanity.
On to the investment in our kids. We have a decision or two to make. These children are the future of this community. We are working to earn their trust and investing in them to hopefully put down their roots and stay to help keep the momentum going in the direction it is. While we're not perfect, we've made incredible strides over the last 10-15 years and the horizon is getting brighter and brighter. We're planting the seeds that this generation of students will tend in our community and to make sure they have the assets needed is our responsibility. We have a duty as well to provide those teaching them with the best we can offer. We also have to remember the most vulnerable among us. If a child has an exception and needs a hand in the learning process, let's find a way. If a child can't see or hear well, why should they be cast aside? If a child needs some help with mobility around school so they can fit in with the rest of the kids, is $175 bucks a year too much to ask? It's not so much the tax as it is investing in what's to come. Buildings, slogans and "social districts" are great, but our community is our people and the value lies in their future.
Ben Kalb is the Communications Manager of the MAISD. Recently transplanted from Colorado, Ben brought his family of 4 kids here to Muskegon to bring his wife closer to home as well as his kids into a rapidly growing and thriving area. He's also bringing a ton of new ideas, ideas that worked and a chest full of forward thinking ways to not focus on what didn't work, but what can and will. Take a listen to our talk about the facts surrounding the millage.
At the $175 per year average increase, a simple division math problem shows that it's a cost of 47 cents a day to make this happen. 47 Cents. May 3rd in Muskegon County is when this vote is happening and absentee voting is already going on if you vote that way. Essential? Yep. Have there been those out there fearmongering trying to disrupt the public education system? Yep. If a kid came to you and said they needed 47 cents a day for a better education and future, could you look them in the eye and say no? Education isn't about politics. It's not about schools trying to gouge you for more than they need or inflate salaries of people who stand around and do nothing all day...it's about investing in our future.....all of our future. Please, get out and vote on May 3rd.