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 Kent City Community Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent Mike Weiler.
How much would your district gain from the millage in the first year?
What would you spend the increased revenue on, and how would this help students?
“Increased revenue would be spent on continuing our early literacy work at the elementary school, hiring additional interventionists, both in reading and in math, and working to add some middle school programming back in from the cuts that were made in 2009 and 2010,” Weiler said.
Large class sizes are a problem at the high school, Weiler added, with some classes between 35 and 40 students. The millage could help stabilize and potentially lower those, he said.
If the millage passes, he added, the district would likely have to draw from those additional funds to keep the budget balanced.
If the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
Weiler said every effort would be made not to make cuts. “If the millage failed, we would really have to do our best to hold onto what we’ve got.”
But if cuts were needed, they would likely require increased class sizes and the potential elimination of course offerings at the middle and high school levels, Weiler said. Reductions in transportation services might also have to be made.
What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
There has not been direct opposition, Weiler said, just confusion about this new type of proposal.
“I’ve had a number of meetings in the community already. What I’m hearing is, people don’t know what a regional enhancement millage is. We’ve never had one before, and the term regional enhancement millage isn’t exactly the most definitive kind of term that’s out there.”
He pointed out that in order for the Kent City district itself to generate the $282,000 that the countywide millage would yield, the district would have to levy about 1.6 mills. Other districts also would generate less locally with 0.9 mills than they would with the same millage applied countywide, while some would generate about the same or more, he said.
“For us, we’re a big winner here, with 1.6 mills worth of tax levy for (approximately) 1 mill,” he said. “That’s a pretty good deal.”