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Alpena Public Schools seeking $9.7 million millage renewal

Ella White Elementary, a school in the Alpena Public School district.

The Alpena Public School system is seeking re-approval for its operating millage, asking voters for the increase in next week’s Feb. 27 election.

David Rabbideau, superintendent of Alpena Public Schools, said that the funding is essential for the district’s general operations in the coming years.

If approved, the full millage would bring in around $9.7 million annually. The levy currently brings in close to that full amount, but due to state-mandated rollbacks, the district has lost over $200,000 in annual funding since its last millage approval.

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For a business with property valued at $200,000, the proposal’s approval would increase annual taxes by $44.62. The millage is non-homestead, meaning that it isn’t levied on primary residences.

Rabbideau said the funding would mainly go toward staff salaries, building maintenance and supporting new math and English language arts curriculums. Several buildings in the district are around 80 years old, so performing any necessary repairs would be a priority, Rabbideau said.

“A lot of expenditures in the classroom and for teachers and students’ supplies, the furniture in the classrooms, things like that,” he said. “It’s pretty wide ranging what we can use that money for.”

Rabbideau said he was optimistic voters would approve the millage described as essential to the school maintaining its current services.

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“It’s good for the community, it’s good for the business community, it’s good for the property owners in the region,” he said. “There’s so many benefits outside of the school system itself to the community if the school system is strong and can attract people and offer really solid programming for its students.”

About 17% of the school’s $51 million annual budget comes from the 18-mill tax, while 71% comes from state school aid. Officials have said that the school system would need to cut programs should the renewal not be approved.

Rabbideau wanted to emphasize to voters that the proposal doesn’t represent a new tax. The millage has been in place since 1994 and was last approved in 2016, according to the district’s website.

“The state of Michigan has said, ‘this is how school districts operate.’ And Alpena Public Schools has a very strong track record of being good fiscal stewards for the community’s financial resources,” he said.

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