Charter schools in Michigan currently don't get any money raised by regional enhancement millages. Those are property taxes up to 3 mills approved by voters in intermediate school districts. Under existing state law, the money can only go to traditional public schools.
But the Senate Education Committee today approved a bill that would let charter schools share in that money.
"We have ten percent of our students who attend charter schools in my county," said bill sponsor Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. "And I feel like it's an equity issue."
"You have property taxpayers that are paying taxes, and their children are not benefiting from that," Hildenbrand said.
Some critics of the bill say it fails to take a much-needed comprehensive approach to how Michigan pays for public schools.
"Charter schools by and large don't have to pay into the retirement system for their teachers. Typically they don't have the same kind of transportation costs. Many charter schools are elementary schools, which are cheaper to run than high schools," said Randy Liepa. of Wayne Regional Education Service Agency. "And so there are a variety of other issues that come into play when it comes to what these resources can be used for, that at least ought to be taken into consideration before a change is made. And in my mind, that ought to be done looking at the entire school funding system of Michigan which many people would say needs to be adjusted after 25 years."
The bill (SB 574 substitute S-3) now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.