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Muskegon Area Intermediate School District seeks special education funding

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Posted at 10:45 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 10:27:07-04

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. — A special education millage hasn't been passed in Muskegon County for decades. But, the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District is hoping that will change next Tuesday.

"We recognize that any tax is a tax to our community, we also believe that our community supports education and supporting our students," said Karlie Parker, Associate Superintendent of Special Education at MAISD.

She's hoping the community will show that support by voting "yes" on the millage request for special education funding.

Muskegon Area Intermediate School District seeks special education funding

"What we're looking for in the special education millage, is to support that under-funding of state and federally mandated services by increasing the millage for special education," said Parker.

The county has not had a special education millage passed in 40 years. The last attempt about 15 years ago was denied.

There are about 26,000 students in the county and 4,000 of them benefit from special education services or programs. Each district is about 50% underfunded for special education, meaning that those additional dollars are pulled from the general fund. Dollars created from the millage would go back to local districts to offset that deficit. Parker says, it would cost someone with a $200,000 home and a $100,000 taxable value about $175 a year.

"This millage is so important to me and my husband and my kids, it not only benefits the special education for the schools in Muskegon County, it also will help the students that are great in school and are on honor roll," said Colleen Ashley. "It helps both sides."

Ashley is a mother of ten, five of her kids are adopted and three have special educational needs.

"I have one that has autism and ADHD and he struggles with it most mostly, it's an emotional regulation and emotional impairments," said Ashley. "I have another one that is just educational delayed, so he needs a lot of help with reading and with math because of his trauma background."

She also has another child with special needs and says her Individual Education Program requires lots of breaks and extra education.

However, three of her kids are on the honor roll. Ashley explains she is passionate about this millage because she doesn't want any of her kids to suffer. She hopes the community realizes that special education funding affects all students.

"Please vote on May 3 and please do it for our future, please do it for our children," said Ashley.

The goal of this millage request is to be able to provide $390 per student. If approved, funding will be provided for the next fiscal year. Polls open Tuesday 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

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