At the Polls in Romulus, a Victory for Public Education
By Brenda Alvarez
For public schools in Romulus, Michigan, the third time was the charm recently as voters renewed an existing business tax to support education that was rejected twice before.
The Detroit Free Press said the school funding was “desperately needed” and the measure passed earlier this month had the support of both the Romulus Education Association and the school district. Officials said that without the critical funding, Romulus Middle School, an NEA Priority Schools site, would have been forced to close.
School Board member Robert McLaughlin told Detroit’s WXYZ-TV, “If we’re not able to get it renewed, basically, with the other cuts the state has imposed on us, within 18 months, we’d close.”
The odds were against passage. The community had twice rejected the assessment in 2010 and local leaders faced opposing messaging calling the measure “ a new tax” without having effective messaging of their own.
Working locally with the Priority Schools Campaign, supporters developed and distributed fact sheets and other materials, including video messaging, newspaper ads and a phone bank designed to change the focus of the community conversation to center on “community” and “students” and show that the revenue was not a new tax and cost homeowners nothing. See an excerpt of the flyer below.
The measure passed 1,377-985. A day before the vote, the Romulus superintendent contacted NEA to say, “Your suggestions were wonderful and we are gaining traction in our community.”
A portion of the Flyer:
Vote “YES” on the Operating Millage on May 3rd
Facts about the Romulus Community Schools Continuation of Operating Millage:
• This tax is not an increase. Romulus business owners already pay this tax. In fact, businesses all over Michigan pay this tax to support students having access to great public schools.
• Renewal of this levy will cost homeowners nothing. The non-homestead portion of the operating millage is an 18 mill tax paid by local businesses and owners of non-homestead properties.
• The tax levy supports students, schools, and communities. This levy will preserve the school’s instructional programs and allow students to receive a quality public education, which results in an educated workforce that helps stabilize the local economy.
• A shared responsibility. Romulus residents provide financial stability to our schools by approving the millage renewals. Businesses pay the millage to build an educated workforce. Romulus School Districts educate students.
Watch the WXYZ-TV report below and read more from the Detroit Free Press