Some Worry that Portage Buyout Will Affect Tax Vote

KALAMAZOO, Mich.  — Portage Public Schools is paying $272,500 to buy out the last year of Superintendent Marsha Wells's contract, a financial decision that has some officials worried that voters there won't want to renew a 1.5-mill school tax, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

The tax is levied countywide and generates about $11 million annually for the nine districts in Kalamazoo County, according to The Gazette. A renewal election is scheduled May 3.

Officials say that Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed K-12 school budget reduction makes renewing the millage “more important than ever,” The Gazette reported.

But school officials are worried that Portage voters, who previously supported the tax, might be so unhappy at the cost of the buyout that they will vote against the renewal and dampen its chance for success countywide, according to the Gazette.

Each district in the county receives about $340 per student through the so-called “enhancement tax,” the report said.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, “School officials hopeful on vote, concerns raised that Portage buyout could impact May election,” March 27, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Superintendent, teacher pay,” March 14, 2011