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 Northview Public Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent Scott Korpak.
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?
“The most visible areas would be to stabilize or decrease class size at the elementary level,” Korpak said, adding there would be a special focus on decreasing K-3 class sizes, from 25-27 currently to 22-23.
The district also would increase ways to promote students’ health — physically, mentally and emotionally — possibly by expanding the number of social workers and counselors, Korpak said.
College and career preparation would be another focus, by providing job shadowing and internships with businesses for students during the summer, “as another time to provide students with learning opportunities,” he said.
The millage would also replace and update materials that have been neglected due to budget reductions. Examples include musical instruments, art supplies, maintenance of athletic facilities and playgrounds,and equipment to support science, technology, engineering and math. “We don’t have a district budget for library books,” Korpak noted. “We’ve not replaced some of our core math and science books in quite some time.” The millage could shore up all these areas, he said.
With the district budget running a deficit of about $550,000 and a fund balance of about 10 percent, he said the millage would help close the budget gap. “This isn’t a panacea,” he stressed. “We’ll still be continuing to look at how we can reduce costs. But this gives us a chance to not take money out of our savings account for the 2017-18 school year.”
If the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
The district would need to reduce budget expenditures, including the largest expense – personnel.
“We’d have to look in all areas. We’d have to look at programs we provide, which would be teachers,” as well as administrators, where reductions were already made this year. “We’d have to look at services our students depend upon,” such as support staff, food service, transportation and paraprofessionals. “I would anticipate there would be reductions in all of those.”
What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
Korpak said response has been positive in his meetings with parent-teacher groups, boosters and community groups. One resident had concerns but was supportive once he understood “the level of reporting involved and how the funds would directly impact student learning,” Korpak said.
The questions he hears most are about who votes — all of Kent County — and how this is different from bond issues voters have approved. Those were for bricks and mortar, while this is to support programs, he said, adding he aims to provide voters with information so they can make an informed decision.
“I would suggest if the state government fulfilled their responsibility, then we wouldn’t be in this position,” he added. “There’s a level of service that people expect from their local school districts, and those funds aren’t coming from the state of Michigan. You can look at that data, and people can make their own determination.”