Lamphere school district seeks renewal of operating millage

High school health clinic nears completion

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 6, 2021

 The entrance to Lessenger Elementary, part of Lamphere Public Schools. The district has a general  operating millage up for renewal Nov. 2, and officials say it’s vital to the district’s stability.

The entrance to Lessenger Elementary, part of Lamphere Public Schools. The district has a general operating millage up for renewal Nov. 2, and officials say it’s vital to the district’s stability.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Once every 10 years, voters are asked whether to renew the Lamphere Public Schools’ general operating millage — a vital piece of funding. That millage is next up for renewal in the general election Nov. 2.

The millage proposal is for another 10-year period. It would allow the district to continue levying the statutory limit of 18 mills on non-homestead properties such as businesses, and to remain at that rate in the event of Headlee rollbacks up to 1.25 mills.

As for residential properties, existing law limits the amount they’re taxed to the portion necessary for the school district to receive the full revenue per pupil allowance permitted by the state. In 2021, that amount was 14.5 mills.

The school district collects $1 for every $1,000 of taxable valuation, times the millage rate.

If approved, the operating millage is estimated to bring in nearly $14 million during the 2022 calendar year.

In a series of emails, Dale Steen, the district superintendent, and Patrick Dillon, the district’s deputy superintendent for business and finance, explained how the majority of the operating millage — more than 85% — pays for the salaries and benefits of staff, including the teachers. Other costs covered by the operating millage include teaching supplies, professional development training, textbooks, utility expenses, bussing and other district expenses.

“An operating millage is absolutely critical for any school district, because it makes up a significant portion of the general fund revenues needed to educate the students,” Dillon said.

The two officials described the district’s current financial health as “strong,” noting that in Oakland County there are 28 public school districts, and Lamphere is one of only two districts in the county to have no debt. This is thanks, in part, to a taxpayer-supported sinking fund millage dedicated to the preservation and upkeep of the district’s buildings and facilities.

The current fund balance is also equivalent to about two months’ worth of operating expenses, which is right in line with recommendations made at the state level.

In recent years, the district has replaced the flooring at Simonds Elementary School and Edmonson Elementary School, and will continue to replace the flooring in the remaining schools over the next several years. The district has also been completing roofing and paving projects.

In addition, Lamphere Public Schools is nearing the completion of a health clinic at Lamphere High School that will be available to all students. At press time, the clinic was expected to open in October, on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding holidays, with a board-certified family practice physician on staff as the medical director, along with a certified nurse, a therapist who is a licensed mental health professional, and a registered medical assistant.

Services there will include physical exams, sick visits, individual and group counseling, and a variety of school and community educational programs. The clinic has been approved by the Michigan Department of Community Health to bill medical insurance companies for services — parents and guardians will bear no responsibility for any portions of unpaid balances on these bills.

More information on the clinic will be available in the coming weeks.

As for the millage renewal, the superintendent said he appreciates the taxpayers’ support, past and present.

“The Lamphere community has historically been very supportive of our millage proposals,” Steen said. “We have always strongly appreciated their support, and have devoted those dollars in the most effective way possible to help our students achieve in their educational endeavors.”

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