Dexter Community Schools begin discussions on a recreation millage

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DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis presents a proposal for a recreation millage at the April 11 school board meeting.

Supporting senior citizens, community activities, activities for kids and all ages, and potentially a community center are all possible things a Recreation Millage could fund in Dexter.

However, before that could happen, a millage question would need to get the approval of the majority of school district voters.

The idea of a recreation millage was introduced at the April 11 Dexter Community Schools Board of Education meeting. During the meeting, DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis gave a presentation about it and then he and the school board began discussions that are expected to continue into the next school board meeting.

In his slides presentation, Timmis first explained what a recreation millage is: “Recreation Authority Act 321 of 2000 provides for the establishment of recreation authorities a municipality, school district, or combination of two or more municipalities or school districts to bring a ballot proposal to voters of not more than 1 mill for a period of 20 years on all of the taxable property within the territory of the authority. The Recreation Millage can be used, in the case of school district, to pay for community recreation, construction/maintenance of recreation facilities, and programming for district residents.”

He then cited some county school districts with a recreation millage: Saline Area Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools, and Whitmore Lake Public Schools.

One important part of a potential millage is stable funding.

In looking at how some community activities and services are currently funded, Timmis said the following:

Dexter Senior Center: Dexter Senior Center receives only 20% of their funding from local agencies with 80% via grants and donations. Dexter Senior Center operates on less than a third of what is provided in neighboring communities (i.e., Chelsea and Saline).

DCS Community Education Programming: All activities provided through community education are 100% fee-based.

All DCS CPA, Pools, Fields, Playgrounds: Operated from DCS per-pupil foundation allowance to fund K-12 education for a minimum of 180 days per year and 1098 instructional hours.

His presentation looked at one big question, why Should DCS consider proposing a Recreation Millage?

He broke the answer up into specific areas:

“Community Interest: Over the past several years, various entities in the community have conducted surveys, focus groups, and studies (i.e. Dexter Community Fund, Dexter Senior Center, Dexter Community Schools) and all have demonstrated overwhelming community interest in supporting Dexter seniors, community activities, activities for kids, and a need for a community center.”

“Community Values: Our community is connected through Dexter Community Schools. Regardless of what township or city our community members reside in they are all in “Dexter.” Members of the DCS community are connected to each other through geography and activities within the community. Our students and the high-quality of life in our community are protected through our collective commitment to our schools and each other. Our collaborative approach to supporting the entire community demonstrates that all voices are respected and supported.

“Dexter Seniors - We all have an obligation to support our seniors who built this community and continue to support our kids. Every year, the Dexter Senior Center has to fundraise to provide programming to seniors in our community. DCS has historically provided space for the Dexter Senior Center and can continue to provide space for the Dexter Senior Center to utilize sustainable funding and programming to support healthy and fulfilling aging for Dexter older adults.

“Community Accessibility: Currently, Dexter Community Schools is the Recreation Department for the Dexter Community on a 100% fee-based system that limits opportunities for Dexter adults and kids.

“A child’s education involves more than just a classroom experience. Education is a combination of experiences that are provided within the classroom, with a child’s family, and throughout a community.”

The school board’s initial discussion included questions about the needs and how a potential recreation millage would be handled. Also, the board talked about how it would be a millage for the entire community with the school district acting as the vehicle to bring in the funding if approved by the voters.

Timmis’s presentation wrapped up by looking at how the DCS school board could consider placing a proposal on a future ballot. He said the proposal could ask for no more than 1.0 mill for 20 years.

“1.0 mill would generate approximately $1.4 million in the first year,” according to Timmis.

The DCS Board would have to approve a resolution at least 60 days prior to an election.

The presentation ended with answering the question, what could DCS fund with a Recreation Millage?

“Stable Funding for Dexter Senior Activities and location in a DCS facility (approximately $300,000 per year)

“Elimination of Participation Fees for MC/DHS athletics through millage support of facilities and maintenance to offset cost of operating athletics (approximately $200,000 per year)

“Support for the Youth and Adult Enrichment through a funded Community Recreation Program (approximately $500,000 per year):

  • Support for Dexter Community and DCS Fine Arts (Art, Music, Drama)
  • Support for Youth Enrichment and Recreation
  • Support for Adult Enrichment and Recreation

“Support for a potential future DCS Community Center (approximately $400,000 per year) open to the DCS Community during the day and in the evening.”

During the discussion, school board vice president Elise Bruderly said she thinks the millage might appeal to the community. She said having the discussion now is good.

School board treasurer Dick Lundy said this could be a question of quality of life and what the community wants. He said the millage would not really be driven by the schools, but it would be more of a response to community needs.

The next school board meeting is April 25 and it’s expected the millage will again be discussed. School board trustee Melanie Szawara said getting community feedback will be important.

To see the entire presentation, go to https://www.dexterschools.org/district/board-of-education.

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