Royal Oak Tribune

Voters elect new school board members

- By Mike McConnell mmcconnell@medianewsg­roup.com @mmcconnell­01 on Twitter

Six candidates competed for the four open seats on the board.

Longtime incumbents Jeff Brinker, Gary Briggs An incumbent and three and Carrie Beerer did not new candidates were elected seek reelection. to the Royal Oak Schools Hanes, Alexander and board of Chierchors­ke in their cameducati­on paigns called for the district Tuesday and to increase its attention to voters overissues involving diversity whelmingly and safety during the COapproved a VID-19 pandemic. millage reHanes, the top vote getter newal for in the school board election the district. with 14,778 votes, said she

M a r y - was thankful for the comanne Vanmunity support she and felHaitsma won another term low candidates received. while newcomers Erika Al“Our top priorities are exander, Timothy Cierchorth­at we want to see diverski, and Lisa-Aline Hanes sity within the curriculum were elected to four-year as well as education,” she terms that start in January. said. “We want to make sure

#Michiganvo­te the health, mental health and safety of the students and teachers is primary. We should be better at this in the district and we want to work together with the (current) board members. The teachers and students deserve our support.”

Before a special meeting of the board Wednesday to hold off on having elementary and middle school students attend some in-person classes, hundreds of parents in the district had signed a petition against students returning to class because of concerns over COVID-19.

A smaller group of parents advocated for students returning to class.

Voters in the district approved by a nearly two-toone margin a renewal of a measure that includes two millages that support operations in the school district.

The final vote, according to unofficial tallies from the county clerk, was 23,158 to 12, 495.

Money from the district’s general operating millage proposal represents a significan­t portion of Royal Oak Schools funding, including paying teachers and staff. The largest millage is the 18-mill non-homestead millage, which affects only businesses and second home properties.

The other is the hold harmless millage on primary home properties, which is a subset of the non- homestead millage, and raises $851 annually for each of the roughly 5,200 pupils in the school district.

Before the election, school officials said the proposal would not increase the district’s tax rates beyond what is authorized currently.

The non-homestead and hold harmless millages are an important aspect of the funding for school operations, officials said.

“Without them we would lose 46 percent, or $23 million, of our funding,” said Kathy Abela, the district’s executive director for finance and operations, told the Daily Tribune last month..

Both of the millages were included in a single operating millage proposal on the ballot and were endorsed by the Greater Royal Oak Democratic Club.

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