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Plan to reduce Flint school debt on Tuesday's ballot

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint voters on Tuesday are being asked to support a change in how theirschool taxesare spent.

Voters are being asked to approve extending a current millage that raises money for capital expenses. But school officials are asking voters to allow the millage to be used to pay down the district's debt more quickly.

If voters approve, the restructured millage would enable the Flint school district to pay down its debts in seven years, instead of the 16 years that it is projected to do now.

Derrick Lopez is Flint’s school superintendent. He’s been meeting with skeptical parents and others to promote the vote.

“It’s important for us to recognize that skepticism exists. It’s a healthy skepticism because of what has happened in the past,” says Lopez. “But my commitment to the board and to the community here is that we will be good stewards of the dollars if people invest in the district.”

Lopez says if the millage fails on Tuesday, the school district they will ask voters to consider it again later this year. 

The results of Tuesday’s vote will affect the next step the school district’s deficit elimination plan will take. 

Flint schools continue to struggle with rising costs for special education needs and a declining student population that means less money coming in from the state.

District officials considered and rejected a proposal earlier this year toclose several schools in order to whittle down the district’s $5.7 million yearly operational deficit.      

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.
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