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  • Jordan D. Smith

School Funding and Presidential Hopefuls Share Ballot

While the presidential primary gets the most attention, Portland school officials want you to know that an equally pressing local issue will also appear on the presidential primary ballot on March 10th. A non-homestead millage renewal for the Portland Public Schools district (PPS) will share the ballot with presidential hopeful vying for their party’s nomination.

According to a press release from PPS, the official language of the proposal which will appear on the ballot states: “This proposal will allow the school district to continue to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance and renews millage that will expire with the 2020 tax levy.”

That 18 mills is equivalent to $18 on each $1000 dollars of taxable property value. All said, that adds up to $1,418,098 per year toward the district’s budget or $668 dollars per student in the district; a figure that represents nearly seven percent of the district budget. Superintendent William Heath says that the renewal of the millage is essential to ensure that the district continues to get the full per-student foundation allowance from the state. During the 2020-2021 school year that per-pupil funding from the state was $8,111. If the millage is not renewed that per-pupil funding will be reduced to $7,443. Superintendent Heath says that “...would be a significant hit to the district and would result in a revenue loss of $1.4 million each year.”

As a non-homestead millage, this levy applies only to property other than a primary residence such as a business, rental property, or vacation property. The current millage was last renewed in 2016 and is subject to renewal on the ballot every four years. Heath also stressed that the millage renewal is separate from the bond issue passed in 2018. Bond funds can be only used for specific capital improvements such as building improvements and technology upgrades. Millage funding together with state appropriations makes up the bulk of the school’s budget for day to day operations of the schools such as building maintenance, salaries, and classroom materials. To learn more, readers can visit the Portland Public Schools website or call (517) 647-4161.

In addition to the millage renewal, local voters will also be asked to indicate their preference for their party’s presidential nominee. Both the democratic and republican parties will hold primaries on March 10th. According to the City of Portland clerks’ office, while Michigan does not require voters to be registered with either party to participate, this election is a closed primary. Before voting you will be required to indicate in writing whether you wish to vote on a Republican Party, Democratic Party or proposal only ballot. On the Republican ballot, President Donald Trump seeks renomination for his party alongside former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Walsh appears on the ballot despite ending his campaign earlier this month.

On the Democratic ballot, a staggering 15 candidates are listed. However, as of this writing, less than half remain in the running: former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former South Bend Mayor Pet Buttigieg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, venture capitalist Tom Steyer, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. To preview the layout of your ballot and to verify information about your polling location visit the Michigan Department of State’s Michigan Voter Information Center.

In 2018, Michigan voters enacted several ballot initiative laws that affected voting. You may now register to vote up to and including election day at your city or township clerk's office. You will be asked to show verification of your eligibility and residency. You may also request to vote by absentee ballot for any or no reason.

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