Wayne — An educational enhancement millage that Wayne County voters approved in 2017 has lifted some districts out of budget deficits, increased pay for some teachers in Detroit and allowed other districts to upgrade buses and technology, officials said Tuesday.
Randy Liepa, superintendent of Wayne RESA, a regional educational agency, told the State Board of Education on Tuesday at its monthly meeting that the 2-mil increase generates $77 million a year, or $370 per student, for 33 local districts.
Money from the millage can be used for any purpose, Liepa said, but Wayne RESA is monitoring closely what districts are doing with the money, which will be generated for six years.
Technology purchases, facility upgrades, new science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs and professional development are among the most common investments, Liepa said. Some districts used the additional cash to erase budget deficits or build rainy day funds, too.
“We are very proud of how they have used those resources,” Liepa said. “Over the summer when I talk to superintendents, we are talking about what to do in education instead of what the deficit is and balancing the budget.”
In the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the money was used to increase salaries for teachers and employees after years without step increases and to stabilize the district’s budget.
In Flat Rock Community Schools, the money was used to create K-5 Spanish and science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics programs, hire two elementary social workers and purchase Chromebook computers.
Flat Rock Superintendent Andrew Brodie said the additional $750,000 from the millage also allowed him to hire a curriculum director for the first time in the district.
“We never had one before. This will help us build a more robust and well-rounded curriculum. This millage is pretty great,” he said.
Garden City Public Schools and Taylor School District were both able to get out of deficit and return to fiscal health.
Marjie McAnally, superintendent of Romulus School District, said the additional $988,000 in funds allowed her district to purchase 11 new buses, adding security systems to six school buildings and upgrade technology across the 3,000-student district.
“It’s been great. We were a deficit district. We were able to get out,” McAnally said.