MAPS operational millage emphatically passes

Marquette Area Public Schools’ proposed operational millage passed the ballot with little opposition last night.

The initiative to maintain one-third of the district’s $27 million budget received a nod of approval from more than 2,300 voters, rounding out 80 percent of the total tally.

“We were ecstatic obviously. The community has said over and over again they support the schools. They showed that last night by resoundingly voting ‘yes’ to renew that millage,” remarked Bill Saunders, Interim Superintendent for MAPS. “We continue to use that to invest in our kids. That is about $8.4 million or a third of our overall general fund. It goes to pay teacher’s salaries, but it also goes to extracurricular programs, fine arts programs, new text book series; all those types of things. But, we really want to be responsible and get as much money back to our students as possible.”

When the state changed its funding formula back in 1994, it banked on the ability of school districts to go out and publicly raise 18 mills. Fortunately, Marquette Area Public Schools were able to do so this time around, otherwise come January 2014, they would have had to make up the difference and reassess the current programs they had in place.

That was the case for school districts in Gladstone, Hancock, Mid-Peninsula, and North Central last November. They had to spend around $7,000 to $8,000 to put their operational millage back on the ballot each time around, until it passed.

Luckily, the millage runs in 20-year cycles. So, when it does pass, like it did in Marquette, it will be in place for the next two decades.