Unprecedented cuts to K-12 education funding have put school districts across the state in a terrible situation. Here in Washtenaw County, several school districts that had already balanced their budgets for the year were blindsided by the state’s severe cuts to education funding. Ann Arbor’s school system alone faces a $17.5 million shortfall this coming fiscal year. This is not the result of waste or inefficiency — Washtenaw County schools have in fact been cutting their budgets for years. This gap is the result of a state government that has lost its sense of duty. We can correct this glaring mistake by voting yes on Proposal 1, which would institute a millage to mitigate the effect of the state’s cuts.
Opponents of the millage argue that schools should make deeper cuts to their programming given that families are suffering economically throughout the county, state and nation. There is, however, little left to cut. Washtenaw County schools have already increased class sizes, reduced custodial staffing, consolidated administration operations and eliminated enrichment programs. For some schools in the county, even cutting all arts and athletics programs would still not be enough to make up the gap.
We all know that education is the key to the revival of Michigan’s economy. Also, any small increases in property taxes will be more than made up for by the increases in property values for county residents. Families choose where to live based on the quality of the public schools, and good schools will draw new residents to the area.
For students, most of whom plan to leave the area after graduation, the future of Washtenaw County may seem trivial and distant. But the fundamental importance of education is not. We encourage students to think about the high quality primary and secondary education that many of them received. Taking five minutes to vote today will help grant tomorrow’s children the same opportunities you had.
Zachary Martin and Evan Nichols
University chapter of the College Democrats