Ingham voters to decide on special education funding

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Ally Telfor

On March 10, Ingham County voters will vote on restoring special education taxes that were approved in 1988, but have been almost eliminated by tax limits.

A yes vote on the Headlee Amendment restoration on March 10 would bring the tax to the full amount originally approved by voters. 

According to Deb Disbro, director of special education for Mason Public Schools, “This millage is very important because it’s restoring the millage funding for special education services, and special education is a very mandated service that we legally must provide, and it is not 100% reimbursed” by the state.

Disbro said the cost of special education now exceeds what the state calculates to be the cost of educating special education students. She said the millage will help pay for what the department is already providing its special education students. “This isn’t going to make it 100% reimbursed yet, but it will help,” she said.

According to Ingham County Intermediate School District’s website, “If approved, this restoration would generate $2,300,000 of special education funds annually to support students, purchase equipment and upgrade facilities for special education students attending public schools in the Ingham ISD service area.” The site said the restoration would continue funding special education for 20 years. 

Disbro said some cognitively impaired children require various services throughout the school day such as:

·  Special education classrooms

·  Speech and language services

·  Occupational therapy

·  Physical therapy

·  Social workers

·  Paraprofessionals

Disbro said that the millage is in the best interest of all students, both special education and general education alike. “Mason Public Schools Special Education Department takes 7% of the general education fund, so that would hopefully decrease that amount so that we’re not taking from the general education fund. When we take from the general education fund, we’re taking the money for very specific special education that is not spent on gen ed kids.”

Michelle Albert of Mason said her sister-in-law was brought up in the public-school special education program. “She was integrated and brought all the way through school instead of going to the Beekman Center where they wanted to send her.” 

Albert said her sister-in-law was able to learn from her peers how to function day to day. Albert said she plans to vote yes on the millage in March. 

According to the intermediate district’s website, “If approved, a taxpayer who owns a home with a market value of $125,000 (taxable value of $62,500) would pay $15.24 per year or $1.27 per month for the restoration of this tax levy.”

In Mason, Clerk Sarah Jarvis said all voting will take place at City Hall, 201 W. Ash St. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee voters can vote now until March 10. Voters should bring their Michigan drivers’ license, military ID or student ID. 

For more information on the tax issue, go to

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