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School Tax Hike Reguest Likely

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An operational millage proposal ranging from 3 to 6.5 milis may face Ann Arbor School District voters this June. School Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. made this prediction last night in a preliminary budget message to the Ann Arbor Board of Education. Westerman said the exact amount of millage recommended wil] largely depend on a contract settlement for 1970-71 with the Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA) plus the number of program improvements the school board approves. A n estimated $1,719,331 increase in revenue over this year's income of $21.4 million is anticipated next year, partially because of an expected 10 per i cent increase in state equalized valuation next year ( t o $568,061,232), and because of an expected settlement with the University of Michigan for children attending the public schools whose parents live on University, tax-exempt property. But a total of $1,456,625 will be needed just to extend the current program and services to an expected additional 864 pupils next year and to meet current contract obligations with the teachers, secretaries and other school unions, Westerman said. This leaves about a $250,000 surplus to pay for program improvements plus a settlement with the teachers. Westerman said he can guarantee the teachers will not settle for only $250,000- less than a 2 per cent increase over their 1969-70 salary schedule. A 7 per cent increase would cost about $1,064,000, Westerman said. Program improvements costing about $1.5 million have been recommended by the Elementary and Secondary Councils, buf. if is expected that only a smail porlimwjfHTcse will be I recommended by Westermañ I for inclusión in the budget. I Two high priorities for proI gram improvement are a bettering of the secondary school counselor ratio, plus the I employment of more black staff m e m b e r s , Westerman said. This year, on the senior-high level, one counselor serves 297 children. The superintendent will recommend this ratio be dropped to 1 to 250 next year. Negotiations with the AAEA for a 1970-71 contract began nine days ago. Westerman warned that Ann Arbor teachers feil "seriously behind" other comparable districts in Michigan with the 1969-70 contract settlement, and said he expects the teachers to press for a better settlement for next year. Since 1965-66, there has been a 24.9 per cent increase in pupil enrollment - from 16,098 to 20,107 this year, Westerman said. The per capita cost of educating the children has increased by 76.1 per cent since 1965-66- from $561 to $988. Last June 9, Ann Arbor School District voters surprised many observers by approving a 6.67-mill proposal for operations by a 300-vote margin. This I included a 3.37-mill renewal I and 3 additional milis. A total oí' 35.97 milis for I erations and debt service is I ing levied this year .on school I district voters. An increase of three milis I would hike taxes $3 per $1,000 I of state equalized valuation I (SEV). A hike of 6.5 milis would I increase taxes $6.50 per $1,000 I of SEV. No date has yet been set for I a millage proposal, but June 8, I the date cf the annual school I election, is considered a likcly I date. A bonding issue for I struction of a third high' school, I along with other projects, is also 1 expected to be put on the June I ballot.


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