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By JGillman, Section News
~ In cronyism part I, the connection between government and business interests was discussed, with focus on state and federal tax dollars being used to pick winners, or at the very least recipients of government largesse. This continues the discussion on a more local level, yet ought to touch anywhere there is a school district. ~
The election was two weeks ago.
All of the study of what happened, the consequence, and the long term effect politically, has to date been pretty much reserved to the national contests. Punditry since November 6th has dissected, analyzed, and made best guesses as to why certain election had any particular results. Something generally not discussed however, has been local initiatives and issues. At least not the part where there is a conflict in government's management of our resources.
One of those issues in Northern Michigan was a bond request made by the board of Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS)
Underneath the perceived troubles in funding public education is an emerging reality. Because of the nature of taxpayer funding, and the struggle for local school districts to grab their 'fair share' of Michigan's education budget pie, expenses that were once built into operating budgets are now separated from them, and allowed to be levied through millage requests. These building fund requests allow for purchase of new infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance.
Unfortunately, once the funding had begun in this direction, it quickly became a running operative mechanism that allowed all manner of abuse to begin. Routine maintenance became the recipient of improvement monies, and improvement requests increased to fund facilities that went beyond necessary functionality. The latest request including a component that would have built a $26.5 million performing arts facility. (including all aspects of construction) The proposal for a declining student population at a cost of was easily declined by voters.
(1441 words in story) Full Story
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