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State House committee takes up bill to channel millage money to charter schools

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
"Problematic" is how Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti described SB 574 to a public meeting on charter schools in Detroit Wednesday evening.

Thursday morning, the state House Education Reform Committee takes up a bill that would channel tax money raised by county school districts to charter schools.

Senate Bill 574would require intermediate school districts that pass enhancement millages to share those revenues with charter schools. The bill narrowly passed the state Senate last week.

Advocates say it’s simply an equity issue.

“Public funding for public education is for kids to be educated in a public school. Charter schools are public schools,” says Dan Quisenberry of the president of the Michigan Association of Charter School Academies.  

Democratic lawmakers oppose the bill. They say it would channel tax dollars to for-profit, out-of-state charter operators.

The bill would have a big impact on school districts in Wayne County. 

Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says changing the law would cost his district millions of dollars. Vitti adds giving tax dollars raised through the enhanced millage would be “problematic."

“Unfortunately nationally we’ve seen examples of taxpayer dollars that are used … for profiteering,” says Vitti. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.