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Three 'money Issues' In Monday School Vote

Three 'money Issues' In Monday School Vote image
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ANN ARBOR School District voters are faced with another painful decisión Monday. We might have said 'three painful decisions,' because there are three "money isI sues" on the ballot, but two I of them are far less costly I than the third. One is authorization for I the Board of Education to I borro w not more than I $4,950,000 to build a fifth I junior high school. This, in I our view, has top priority on I Monday's ballot. The comI munity cannot afford to go I through several years of I overcrowded junior high schools, as it will if steps are not taken soon to handle the flood of pupils arriving at the crucial junior high school level of their education. There are other factors: one is that building costs continue to rise, and it would be more expensive for the district to delay a project that already is late. For the economy-minded, it should be reassuring that the building design of Scarlett Junior High School, the last one constructed, will be utilized to achieve savings. There is no millage request for the new junior high school. Its,cost will be added to the school district's bonded indebtedness, which is a manageable amount not out of line with other districts in communities of expanding population. The vote on the bonding proposition is limited to owners of property assessed for taxes within the school district. The News urges them to vote "yes" on this proposal. A SECOND proposal orf Monday's ballot will be decided by all county voters, not just those in the Ann Arbor district. It is the request by the Washtenaw County Intermediate School District for one-half of a mili to support 16 programs for mentally or physically handicapped children of the county. The Intermediate District, which provides services that can't be offered by an individual school district, was created by a vote of Washtenaw residents a decade ago. At that time it was given a half-mill property tax, county-wide, for financial support. There were 38 special education teachers then for 1,924 handicapped children. I Ten years later the program I has 200 teachers and 8,475 students. News education writer Jan I Stucker outlined the probI lems of growth for this agenI cy in Tuesday's edition of I The News. We. believe the I increase in tax levy is justiI fied and urge its support I Monday. I THE THIRD proposal is the one that has divided the Board of Education and the candidates for the three school trustee positions to be filled Monday. It was outlined in detail in Monday's News. The 6.67 milis ($6.67 per $1,000 of assessed valuation) sought by the Board of Education includes 3.3 milis of additional tax over a five-year period. The I maining 3.37 milis is I newal of a previous tax I which has expired. The debate has been over ■ whether only the renewal I should have been requested, I but Schools Supt. Scott WesI terman contends that even ■ the full 6.67 milis will not ■ cover essentials, and a ma■ jority of the board agrees I with him. Major parts of the I millage requested are alI ready committed in teacher I contracts, salary increases I for other personnel and for I serving more than 900 adI ditional pupils next year. There are still a couple of "unknowns" in the schools' financial picture: whether the University will contribute substantially toward the cost of educating children from tax-free University housing and what the final school aid from the state I will be. Even though state aid is expected to be increased substantially, much of the gain may be wiped out for Ann Arbor by a change in the state's I tibie millage factor that I penalizes high tax base I tricts. I Ann Arbor voters are going to have to judge this ohe on their individual circumstances. It's a painful I choice, even for those willing to make sacrifices to insure a good education for their children. We believe Westerman is sincere and probably correct when he says the "tradition of excellence" of the I Ann Arbor Public Schools I cannot be maintained I out the entire 6.67 milis. I


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