Letter: Millage is right choice for schools

As superintendents of three of Wayne County’s largest school districts, our job is to run our schools effectively and efficiently while maintaining programs and services that ensure our students thrive. We take pride in our work because, ultimately, we are educators who are deeply invested in our students’ success.

With funding for our districts being at the lowest levels since the early 2000s, however, ensuring our students’ growth and success is becoming increasingly difficult to do because balancing budgets often means sacrificing the programs and services that our students need.

The districts we proudly serve and represent — Plymouth-Canton, Livonia and Wayne-Westland—are historically among the most financially stable districts in our region. In recent years, however, reductions in our funding from Lansing have changed all of that. Wayne-Westland, for example, now receives $400 per student less from the state compared to 2008.

Wayne County voters have an opportunity to make one of the most significant and necessary investments in its public schools in generations by voting for the Wayne County Regional Enhancement Millage on November 8, and we are joining with many other superintendents and countless community leaders throughout our county in support of it.

The proposal, if passed by voters, will provide every public school in Wayne County with an additional $385 per student in annual funding. Better yet, it will allow each district to make its own decisions about how to best utilize these essential resources.

The impact the millage’s passage would have in our classrooms cannot be overstated. It would allow our schools the option to hire and retain the very best teachers, reduce class sizes, make long overdue building repairs, increase the use of technology and expand academic offerings across the board. In short, it will provide our schools with the resources needed to give our students the opportunities they deserve.

We recognize this investment comes at a cost. A homeowner whose home is valued at $100,000 would pay $8 per month if the proposal passes. While asking voters to make that investment isn’t a decision we take lightly, we know the immediate and significant positive impact it could have on our students and our schools.

Voting yes on the Wayne County Regional Enhancement Millage is our opportunity to reinvest in ourselves because strong schools make stronger communities.

Michele Harmala, superintendent

Wayne-Westland Community Schools

Monica Merritt, superintendent

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools

Andrea Oquist, superintendent

Livonia Public Schools