Live chat: Jackson County ISD special education millage
12:05
Brian Wheeler: 
Good afternoon. We're having a live chat for the next 90 minutes about the Aug. 7 special education millage. We'll have three local superintendents answering questions, as well as Shelly Lewis, a parent and president of the Jackson Autism Support Network.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:05 Brian Wheeler
12:05
Brian Wheeler: 
We welcome questions and comments from you throughout the discussion.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:05 Brian Wheeler
12:07
Leanne Smith: 
In the Aug. 7 election, Jackson County voters are being asked to consider a five-year, 1.55-mill proposal for special education. Kevin, can you address why the Jackson County Intermediate School District Board decided to put this proposal before voters?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:07 Leanne Smith
12:11
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
Kevin had consulted with the county superintendents and boards prior to the JCISD board's approval and had unanimous support.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:11 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:12
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Property values have decreased significantly over the past several years. Those property values determine the revenues raised to provide mandated services. While schools have significantly resized themselves, there no longer remains enough revenue to cover mandated programming. Passing this millage allows enough revenue to maintain this new, resized structure of support for students that need it the most.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:12 Guest
12:12
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
What does the "renew" and "restore" mean?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:12 David
12:12
Brian Wheeler: 
That previous comment under "Guest" was from Kevin Oxley, Jackson County ISD superintendent.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:12 Brian Wheeler
12:14
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What is the backup plan if this should not pass?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:14 Guest
12:14
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
The renew is a renewal of millage voters are currently paying (.9 mills). The restore is a restoration of mills previously approved by voters but rolled back under the headlee amendment over the past 15 years (.65 mill). More than that has rolled back, but we felt a partial restoration would allow us to keep our resized programming structure.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:14 Guest
12:15
Brian Wheeler: 
Again, "Guest" was Kevin Oxley. We'll get him to remember to use his name next time!
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:15 Brian Wheeler
12:17
Leanne Smith: 
What does this millage mean to the individual school districts in the county?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:17 Leanne Smith
12:18
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
This is a millage request by the ISD specifically for Special Education, but I have heard that this is also important for every student in Jackson County -- that does not seem to make sense so can you explain that apparent contradiction?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:18 David
12:19
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
In the short run, it means a $200,000 savings in this year's 2.4 million reduction.Should it fail, it would result in a $1.4 million to JPS in the following year. The bottom lin is that it's going to hurt all kids in all districts.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:19 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:19
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
Right now, budgets were adopted not assuming this millage will be passed. When the current millage runs out in the spring, failure to pass this millage would result in a $3.7 million shortfall. We would have the year to determine what kinds of cuts need to happen to deal with this. Unfortunately, most of these cuts would have to come from general education, as most of the current special education programming is mandated.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:19 Kevin Oxley
12:20
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
From a district's perspective it has immediate impact on our general fund budget. We will not be able to replace a few staff members effecting our entire student population
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:20 Tony Hollow
12:21
Leanne Smith: 
Should this millage pass, how much of the money will go to the individual school districts?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:21 Leanne Smith
12:22
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
85% of the dollars flow directly to the local districts. 15% stays with the ISD to provide staffing stationed in the local districts providing consolidated support to the students in these districts.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:22 Kevin Oxley
12:22
Brian Wheeler: 
I'm not sure I entirely understand the dynamics at work here. This is a millage that's billed for special education. I've also heard it affects all students. How is that the case?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:22 Brian Wheeler
12:22
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
With 1 in every 6 kids receiving special education services, this millage is very important to all districts
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:22 Shelly Lewis
12:23
[Comment From T.O.T.O.: ] 
Will this millage impact all students?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:23 T.O.
12:25
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
A vast majority of the services provided to special needs students are mandated by law. If this special education millage is not passed, general education dollars will need to be spent providing those services mandated by law, hence having an effect on all students.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:25 Kevin Oxley
12:25
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
Yes, it impacts every student in every district. Because special education programs are mandated by law, it results in general education dollars being used for special education.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:25 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:26
Brian Wheeler: 
Can't school districts simply spend less on special education if this does not pass?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:26 Brian Wheeler
12:26
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
These are still tough times and we all have to "tighten our belts" -- has the ISD "tightened its belt"? and all the other school districts in the County?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:26 David
12:27
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
The less we are reimbursed for required mandates form the ISD or other sources the more it drains our general fund that is currently budgeted for other needs
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:27 Tony Hollow
12:28
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
The belt is tight. It's been tighter over the past two years. Local schools have consolidated special education leadership and reduced all non-mandated programs.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:28 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:29
Brian Wheeler: 
How have local school districts tightened their belts in regard to special education in recent years? Examples?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:29 Brian Wheeler
12:29
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
Even though Special Education is mandated by law, if we help our kids get what they need when they are younger then they will be productive adults in our society instead of a burden to it. It takes a village to raise our children.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:29 Shelly Lewis
12:30
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
Good question, the ISD has gone through significant resizing over the last two years. Over 20 positions have been removed from the Torrant/Kit Young Centers, we have consolidated all special education services under the JCISD umbrella, allowing us to spread staff out across the county instead of each district hiring their own specialized staff, we have restructured the local district expense reimbursement for greater equity across the county, local districts have reduced staff where legally allowed, and contract freezes and health care concessions have taken place across the county. Still with all of these efforts, dollars to maintain the new resized programming are short. If this millage is passed, it will simply allow for maintaining the new resized structure, not go back to the staffing levels before the resizing.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:30 Kevin Oxley
12:30
[Comment From NancyNancy: ] 
I remember reading that this will raise taxes by $32.50 per $100K assessed value. Many homes in Jackson County are valued lower than that. Most would not even notice the increase.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:30 Nancy
12:32
Brian Wheeler: 
So, if this millage passes, Kevin, you're just holding serve?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:32 Brian Wheeler
12:33
[Comment From Dan WoodDan Wood: ] 
How much ( if any ) did your ( superintedents ) wages increase this year?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:33 Dan Wood
12:33
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
We have combined general education and special education classroom together, resulting in higher achievement for both groups. One out of every six students receives some form of special education services which means that all staff needs to be involved in a student's education.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:33 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:33
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
You mentioned something earlier about the Headlee rollback and its impact on property taxes -- can you explain a little more what that means and how it relates to this millage request?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:33 David
12:34
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
I don't think in today's world, education can "hold serve". We must improve even though dollars continue to shrink.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:34 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:34
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
We have reduced staff, consolidated services, and cut overall expenses dramatically
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:34 Tony Hollow
12:34
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
While I respect the fact that no investment is easy during difficult times, we worked hard to make sure that the request was reasonable.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:34 Kevin Oxley
12:36
[Comment From JennyJenny: ] 
Shelly, services have been cut for special needs adults as well, so getting more money for education is not helping those allready out of school
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:36 Jenny
12:36
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
My salary has not increased in the past three years. Realize, I am not complaining. I think it is very appropriate during these tough economic times. I did receive a one time merit payment of $500 this year. Being eligible for merit pay was required by law this year.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:36 Kevin Oxley
12:37
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
Headlee was for when property values (and thus taxes) rose faster than inflation. It did not contemplate property values decreasing. There is no plan to recover the .7773 mills that were rolled back. The proposal would restore only .65 of those mills.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:37 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:37
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
The superintendent salary is anticipated to be frozen for yet another year in 2012 2013
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:37 Tony Hollow
12:39
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
As far as wages, no increase. Cost of health insurance has gone up, as it has for all educators. JPS continues to pay 20 percent.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:39 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:39
Brian Wheeler: 
We are taking a break for a moment to let our participants catch their breath. We also are out of reader questions at the moment. Here's your chance to ask one.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:39 Brian Wheeler
12:39
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
Having a son that is non-verbal, special education services are needed to help him learn some form of communication something that most parents are not educated in to teach their children. We work with the teaching staff to help educate ourselves so that we can carry it over in the home.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:39 Shelly Lewis
12:41
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
Yes the money for special needs adults is needed but kids can receive services until they are 26 here in Michigan.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:41 Shelly Lewis
12:42
Brian Wheeler: 
Is this millage in perpetuity?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:42 Brian Wheeler
12:43
Brian Wheeler: 
By the way, please excuse any typos. Asking people to type responses to questions in real time can be hazardous! I think I spelled "perpetuity" correctly, though, so major kudos to me!
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:43 Brian Wheeler
12:44
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
It is not. It is for 6 years. After that, voters will get to decide if it was a good investment and determine if it should be granted again. It should also be noted that the ISD has, in the past, not gone out for a renewal when times were good and sufficient dollars were available to provide appropriate programming.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:44 Kevin Oxley
12:45
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
I keep hearing about economic recovery starting to happen, so doesn't that mean property values are going back up resulting in more money to schools?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:45 David
12:45
[Comment From JennyJenny: ] 
Fed requires age 21 maybe Michigan should change to age 21
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:45 Jenny
12:46
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
We can only adhere to Michigan law, which is 26.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:46 Kevin Oxley
12:47
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
The Headlee Amendent will still cap the taxes that can be collected on property values at the rate of inflation, so it will take even longer to catch up.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:47 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:49
Brian Wheeler: 
Do other Michigan counties have special-education millages like this? How does ours compare?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:49 Brian Wheeler
12:51
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
Doesn't the state just make up for any shortfall in money at local schools?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:51 David
12:51
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
This is one of the things that separates Jackson from other counties -- the way they support special needs children. Jackson has a big heart and has a strong history of caring for the less fortunate.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:51 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:52
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
County millages vary. Jackson County has always taken pride in providing services for those that need the services the most. All counties have to provide mandated special education services, whether they pay for it out of general funds, having less programming for general ed students, or whether they choose to raise dedicated millage dollars is a local county decision.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:52 Kevin Oxley
12:53
[Comment From CathyCathy: ] 
I just want to make a comment as a parent of a special needs child. My child will be in her senior year this fall. She has fallen under the SPED umbrella since the age of 2. I am so pleased with the services and I fully support the millage being proposed so ALL Jackson county students can get the education they deserve. Our future is in our children's hands, so we need to educate and train our children to be the best productive citizens that they can be. Everyone can contribute to society no matter what.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:53 Cathy
12:53
Brian Wheeler: 
To piggyback on David's question, how much money does the state put into local school budgets?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:53 Brian Wheeler
12:56
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
We get a per pupil allowance for all students -- general and special education -- of approximagely $6,900 (down from approximately $7,400 two years ago). However, mandated special ed services far exceed the true cost. The state does not make up for the shortfall.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:56 Dan Evans (JPS):
12:57
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
Thank you Cathy for the Great comment. Our kids just want what other kids want - to be kids, they just have challenges to over come and we have to all help them overcome their challenges.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:57 Shelly Lewis
12:57
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
You're doing a great job, but I don't think anyone answered my earlier question -- aren't property values going up with economic recovery? So won't this just fix itself if we wait awhile?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:57 David
12:59
[Comment From NancyNancy: ] 
As David indicated, I read a news article today that national property values have shown the first increase since 2007.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 12:59 Nancy
1:00
[Comment From JennyJenny: ] 
Does the ISD over see the S.E. programs in all the county schools
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:00 Jenny
1:01
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
Local property values have not shown any increase or recovery over the past two years, and our local assessors have yet to forecast an increase This millage only goes for five years when it will be reconsidered. Property values in Michigan have not reflected national trends.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:01 Dan Evans (JPS):
1:01
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
Property values in Jackson County decreased by 2.3% last year and early projections from the County Equalization office suggest that could occur again next year. When property values begin to turn around, we cannot collect above the rate of inflation. So, actual revenue increased will lag far behind actual growth, once it starts.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:01 Kevin Oxley
1:03
[Comment From CathyCathy: ] 
Oh at @ David my property value went down again this year.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:03 Cathy
1:03
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
The ISD provides supervisory and special services (OT, PT, PSYC, SOC) for all schools in the county (local, private and charter).
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:03 Kevin Oxley
1:03
[Comment From CathyCathy: ] 
Now I would like to comment from a educators point view. I work in another neighboring county for the ISD there. We are also asking for the HEadlee tax, if not we are looking at the same issue there. Our ISD has minimized, downsized, collaborated services as well as the local school districts. What irritates me most is when Early Childhood cuts are made and that is where we as educators can make the biggest impact on these kids. Early intervention is the key people. Oh and by the way yes I do pay for a portion of my health insurance and also there will be no wage increases in my ISD this year.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:03 Cathy
1:05
[Comment From DavidDavid: ] 
So with the cut in the foundation allowance from the state that Dan mentioned, and the 2.3% drop in property values again that Kevin mentioned, it sounds like schools are really gettin a lot less money than they used to -- true?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:05 David
1:06
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
Thanks, Cathy! We feel your frustration. At the heart of what we do everyday is for children and families in our community.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:06 Dan Evans (JPS):
1:08
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
Revenue levels today are where they were around the 2004 2005 school year. Yet our expenses have continued to rise. So in answering your question David Yes we have less to
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:08 Tony Hollow
1:09
Brian Wheeler: 
Tony Hollow sent his comment by accident. He's still typing!
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:09 Brian Wheeler
1:09
[Comment From NancyNancy: ] 
Please forgive my ignorance, but are Jackson county schools participating in school of choice? I just moved here about a year ago. How does this affect funding?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:09 Nancy
1:11
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
do so more with
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:11 Tony Hollow
1:11
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
I believe everyone in Jackson County participates in some fashion with Schools of Choice. The money follows the students. The ISD services all special education students if needed anywhere in the county.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:11 Kevin Oxley
1:12
Brian Wheeler: 
Do you think this millage will pass? What are you hearing from the public?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:12 Brian Wheeler
1:14
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
Obviously, I am hopeful. Jackson County residents have always taken great pride in providing for their students, especially those that need special services.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:14 Kevin Oxley
1:14
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
Most parents that I have talked with are supporting this millage.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:14 Shelly Lewis
1:15
[Comment From Dan Evans (JPS):Dan Evans (JPS):: ] 
Yes. We have had an outpouring of support during this millage campaign from all segments of the community -- business, public sector, parents, senior citizens, politicians, etc., are all publicly backing the special education millage for our children.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:15 Dan Evans (JPS):
1:15
Brian Wheeler: 
I also should ask: Are there any other ways for folks to get information and/or get questions answered in the next two weeks?
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:15 Brian Wheeler
1:17
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
Non advocacy information is available on the web at www.jcisd.org. Also, feel free to contact me or any superintendent in the county.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:17 Kevin Oxley
1:19
[Comment From Tony HollowTony Hollow: ] 
Through informational sessions like these I believe the public is informed and aware of the task at hand. our county has always supported this cause and I believe it will continue August 7
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:19 Tony Hollow
1:21
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
There is a website www.FriendsOfSpecialEd.org and facebook page for Jackson County Friends of Special Education
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:21 Guest
1:21
Brian Wheeler: 
"Guest" was Shelly.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:21 Brian Wheeler
1:22
[Comment From Kevin OxleyKevin Oxley: ] 
I appreciate everyone for taking the time to get informed. Please remember to vote on August 7th!!
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:22 Kevin Oxley
1:22
Brian Wheeler: 
We're going to wrap up the conversation. Make sure to vote Aug. 7.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:22 Brian Wheeler
1:23
[Comment From Shelly LewisShelly Lewis: ] 
Please vote "YES" on August 7th!
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:23 Shelly Lewis
1:23
Brian Wheeler: 
Now that the chat is over, feel free to post any additional comments below. We will pass them along to our participants. Thanks again.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 1:23 Brian Wheeler
 
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