On May 2, voters in the Kent ISD region will be asked to approve a 0.9 mill tax for local school districts, generating $211 per student to maintain programs, improve services and meet other needs. School News Network is offering information on what the millage means for each of the 20 districts in the Kent ISD. Today we focus on Byron Center Public Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent Dan Takens.
How much revenue would your district gain from the millage in the first year?
What would you spend that increased revenue on, and how would this help your students?
Revenue would go toward staffing to enhance early childhood, and behavior, career and college programming initiatives. Positions would include a Byron Center Early Childhood Center director to take a lead role with ECC programs; a K-12 intervention specialist to focus on proactive strategies tied to behavior, in order to eventually reduce suspension and expulsion; and a career and college programming specialist to help students focus on their interests and aptitudes in college, skilled trades and other areas.
If the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
Byron Center would need to use money from its fund balance, or savings, to maintain current programs and would not be able to enhance the Early Childhood Center, add a college and career specialist or reduce class sizes. The district has drawn from its fund balance in recent years, causing it to dwindle from 19 percent five years ago to 13 percent today. The recommended fund balance for Michigan schools is 15 to 20 percent, according to the Michigan School Business Officials.
The district faces a projected $800,000 deficit next year, assuming per-pupil funding would not be increased. Takens said the district would pull from the fund balance to offset the deficit.
What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
“None whatsoever,” said Takens, who has been leading community meetings for a separate district millage extension, also on the ballot May 2. The meetings give him the opportunity to talk about the enhancement millage too.
“The only concerns I have heard in the Byron Center community is the worry there may be confusion with the May 2 bond extension,” he said. “It warms my heart as I share how it will benefit Byron Center, and then how it benefits the entire community, all of Kent County.”