Monday, December 10, 2012

Board calls on Lansing to rethink their lame duck reform bills

The Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved two resolutions this evening calling on the state legislature and governor to slow down, think about what they are doing and the potential impact it will have on public education, and basically stop using the lame duck session to ramrod through politically charged, poorly-conceived education reform bills.

Resolution A - the EAA and charter expansion bills

WHEREAS, our public schools, with a tradition of local control embedded in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, are the core of a free, responsible and democratic society; and

WHEREAS, Michigan was a leader in democratizing elementary and secondary education, and in creating a public education system central to every Michigan constitution since 1835; and

WHEREAS, the Michigan legislature has before it several legislative bills that go against the very principles of public education system, including House Bills 6004, 5923, 4052 and Senate Bill 1358 that would allow unprecedented acquisition of control of our local school districts by state actors; and

WHEREAS, the legislation seeks to overlook the education reform ideas offered by professional educators and school boards across the state, instead creating a new, untested, parallel system of school governance with no record of successful performance, rather than focusing on issues that most affect our lowest performing schools and our most vulnerable populations; and

WHEREAS, the proposed legislation is being promoted as “education reform,” with no research to support these reforms nor data from the Education Achievement Authority that demonstrates increased student performance or school success; and

WHEREAS, the nucleus of these reforms creates a parallel, duplicative and undemocratic system of public education that bypasses the duly elected State Board of Education and their appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as hundreds of locally elected school boards across the state; and

WHEREAS, the Godfrey-Lee Public School District, currently serving over 1,800 students with diverse backgrounds and a majority growing up in poverty, transient, and limited English-speaking conditions, provides students a wide variety of educational opportunities, curricular offerings above and beyond basic provisions, technology support for personalized learning options, holistic supports to overcome family and community problems, and a highly qualified, dedicated instructional staff;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Godfrey-Lee Public School District assembled in Wyoming, Michigan implores legislators and our governor to reject proposals that are untested and unproven, instead looking for ways to collaborate with and empower local public school boards, parents, concerned citizens and professional educators to solve local and state pressing educational problems.

Resolution B - elimination of the Personal Property Tax

WHEREAS, our public schools our funded by a hybrid of state and local taxes, each crucial to the provision of an equitable and quality education for all students; and

WHEREAS, Michigan public school communities are responsible for providing adequate and safe school facilities and classrooms purchased and maintained primarily through local millages and property taxes; and

WHEREAS, the Michigan legislature, assembled in lame duck session, has before it several legislative bills that provide for the repeal of the industrial and personal property taxes over ten years, including House Bills 6022-26 and Senate Bills 1065-72, which eliminate the Personal Property Tax without full replacement of lost revenue; and

WHEREAS, school districts such as Godfrey-Lee Public Schools will be forced to raise taxes on constituent property owners to pay for outstanding School Bond Loan millages, shifting the burden of taxes on Michigan residents by $20 million in compliance with the provision of the Michigan Constitution requiring automatic rate increases on all remaining taxable property; and

WHEREAS, the proposed legislation without full replacement of lost revenue will cause districts and ISDs to lose millions of dollars for key programs such as special education and career and technical education, in particular forcing our district to use declining general fund revenues to make up for lost special education funds and offer fewer programs for students; and

WHEREAS, the estimated impact of elimination of Personal Property Taxes on the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools District and its students is $89,000 for special education programs and a shifting of $104,553 in debt millage to residential property owners; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools supports the repeal of industrial and Personal Property Taxes but not until the state legislature comes up with a plan for immediate and full replacement of lost revenue;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Board of Education of the Godfrey-Lee Public School District assembled in Wyoming, Michigan implores the House and Senate to table the current Personal Property Tax reform legislation until a suitable plan is developed for immediate and full replacement of lost revenue for districts and ISDs.

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