School Funding

Below is a copy of a letter that was sent to Governor Granholm relative to our school aid and the need for more realistic funding for our small school.  One of the school board’s main goals for the school this year is to secure more stable funding.

  October 31, 2003

Honorable Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor

Romney Building

PO Box 30013

Lansing , MI   48909

Dear Governor Granholm:

As you continue the very difficult task of piecing together a State budget for the legislature, I feel it is necessary to make you aware of budget issues that directly affect the Beaver Island Community School District ’s ability to maintain a K-12 educational program on the most remote inhabited island in the Great Lakes . This school year, our public school district will receive less than $30,000.00 in State Funding and no Federal Title 1 money. Specifically, I am interested in meeting with you to discuss the possibility of a Small Schools Payment (see attached legislative proposal) that would allow us to rebuild a system that has been shattered by financial constraints and thus threatens to shatter a whole community. 

Beaver Island is home to approximately 500 year-round residents, 185 of whom are school children or parents of school children.  If a vital K-12 district is not guaranteed for our district, about 40% of the Island ’s population would be forced to abandon a way of life which for the majority is a continuation of six generations of Island culture, traditions and ownership.  

Financing the quality educational program that generations of Island families have valued and invested in has become an ongoing battle.  Island residents have fought to save a school where its students receive a basic education which stresses academic excellence, personal achievement and accountability and which is taught by roughly one teacher per two grades.

In the years since passage of Proposal A, district residents have taken the following steps to make sure that quality programs could be maintained:

·         Overwhelmingly supported a local district enhancement millage (when this was allowed) to implement a local area network and provide all students and staff access to a solid technology base;

·         Overwhelmingly supported an Intermediate School District-wide enhancement millage for vocational-technical needs;

·         Formed and supported a Booster Club that offsets costs of travel for athletic teams;

·         Spent two years studying, discussing and making plans for education on Beaver Island in the 21st Century through funding by the Frey Foundation.  A copy of our plan for 21st Century Learning on Beaver Island is enclosed.  We have the plan – we need adequate continuous funding;

·         Overwhelmingly supported a sinking fund millage to provide for needed improvements to an aging facility;

·         Taken advantage of online coursework through Michigan Virtual University ; and

·         Wrote for and received grants to pursue strategic planning, provide 7-12 grade students with Palm Handheld computers, and offset unique travel expenses for professional development and sports.

Without these proactive and supportive steps by the community, the school district would likely have shut its doors or been forced to provide only an elementary school program for its community.  An evolving K-12 school program is essential to this community – families cannot send their children to a neighboring district.  In fact, the closest neighboring district is 32 miles away by boat or plane.  I urge you to help protect this culturally and geographically unique community by providing adequate funding for its school. I hope you will take the opportunity to provide our school with the ability to locally use a portion of its School Education Tax dollars (see attached legislative proposal) so it can continue to operate as one of Michigan’s most successful public schools – a school that sets high standards and works with parents and community to make sure students engage in learning. 

Despite the above mentioned aggressive efforts on the part of the school board, staff and community over the past 10 years, the staff in this tiny school has been cut by over 20%. The district is understaffed!! Examples of cuts include, but are not limited to:

·         Cut one of the 8 teaching positions from full-time to 5/6ths

·         Eliminated the one full time teacher aide

·         Eliminated the one part-time library aide

·         Reduced hours of the only custodian by 25%

·         Eliminated a part-time school-to-work coordinator

·         Reduced secretarial hours by 50%

It is a credit to this community that so much has been accomplished with so little, but we are at a point where we cannot continue to operate on good will and promises of plans to come.  We need to have stable and adequate funding to implement the identified and needed changes.  Without passage of legislation that allows us to locally use a small portion of our State Education Tax Dollars, our district will continue to be reduced in its mission. 

Even though I am speaking on behalf of one very tiny district, I recognize that the needs of all Michigan students must be met.  I do believe Michigan can have the best educational system in the world, but only if the needs of all students are taken into consideration – including the needs of those in the very tiniest districts.  As you have said yourself, "In Michigan, we know that learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom, It’s a team effort – at home, at school, and at the capitol."  Right now on Beaver Island , home and school and community are definitely focused on learning -- with almost no financial support from the capitol and unending requests for compliance with state mandates. 

I would like to invite you to visit Beaver Island for yourself, to see just what a huge impact a very small portion of the district-generated School Education Tax dollars could have on our small district.  I will be contacting your office soon to follow up on this request. 


Kathleen K McNamara




21st Century Learning on Beaver Island

cc:  Senator Jason Allen

      Representative Kenneth Bradstreet  



Language for Small Schools State Aid Payment


20k(2) (b) At least 90% of the district’s combined state and local revenue is from the district's local school operating revenue.  As used in this subdivision, "combined state and local revenue" and "local school operating revenue" mean those terms as defined in section 20.

20k(2)(d) The amount of the payment under this section to each K-12 district eligible under subsection (2) shall be an amount equal to 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 or 1/6 of the state revenue derived for the calendar year ending in the immediately preceding fiscal year from the tax levied under that state education tax act, 1993 PA 331, MCL 211.901 to 211.906, on property located in the district, as determined by the department of treasury, not to exceed $875,000.00.  

By limiting the payment to only those school districts that already generate more than 90% of their combined state and local revenue from non-homestead (local) sources, the actual cost to the state is minimal.  According to spring 2003 figures from the House fiscal agency, only four K-12 districts might qualify for the payments at a total cost to the State of Michigan of no more than $875,000.00 and could be as little as $289,000.00  

Collectively, the four districts that might qualify for this “Small Schools” Payment generate approximately $1,743,000.00 in State Education Tax Revenue yet, expect to receive less than $50,000.00 in State Aid this school year. 

For the Beaver Island Community School District , if this went into effect based on 2003 Taxable Value:

            1/2 of the S.E.T. revenue would equal $224,691.00

1/3 of the S.E.T. revenue would equal $149,794.00

1/4 of the S.E.T. revenue would equal $112,345.00

1/6 of the S.E.T. revenue would equal $74,897.00

Obviously, if the 1/2 is a possibility, that would best meet district needs, and, if it seemed likely that the payment would be a “one-time” payment, then the 1/2 would be necessary.  If it looked like language could be inserted that would allow a multi-year payment, then the 1/3 or 1/4 would allow the district to run a quality basic K-12 program.  Even 1/6 of the S.E.T. revenue would be helpful; it would at least allow us to keep the K-12 doors open.  

Please feel free to contact the Beaver Island Community School District for more information and for ideas about other possible solutions to the issue.  It is imperative that a K-12 district be maintained on Beaver Island .   

Prepared by Kathleen McNamara, Principal/Superintendent

Beaver Island Community School / 37895 King’s Highway / Beaver Island / MI / 49782



Beaver Island Community School announces plans for a 21st Century Learning Scholarship

Scholarship to support educational goals of graduates of Beaver Island Community School who meet the community-generated graduate profile.

Beaver Island :  Last June, the Beaver Island Board of Education and the Charlevoix County Community Foundation formalized plans to establish a college scholarship fund to benefit graduates of the Island ’s high school.  According to Linda McDonough, school board secretary and driving force behind the establishment of the scholarship fund, this scholarship fund is essential as college costs rise and more and more Island graduates head off to school.   The idea builds on the success of the Gullahorn Family Foundation scholarship that currently provides some graduates with financial support.  All graduates will be eligible to apply for the 21st Century Learning Scholarship(s) and selection will be based upon the degree to which the student can show that they meet the school’s graduate profile.

The graduate profile was adopted by the Board of Education as a culmination of the district’s strategic planning process.  Forty members of the community spent nearly 2 years learning about education and defining a plan for education on Beaver Island .   The final document, 21st Century Learning on Beaver Island , has become very much a part of school decision-making since its publication in the summer of 2000.  Applicants for the scholarship(s) will be expected to demonstrate competence in all five of the areas listed below, showing the ability to: 1) Have strong personal qualities and values; 2) Use their minds well; 3) Have positive work habits; 4) Make positive contributions to society; and, 5) Use technology fluently.  A three-person selection committee made up of off-island educators and professionals will interview the applicants.

The new 21st Century Learning Scholarship fund joins 49 other scholarship funds held by the Charlevoix County Community Foundation.  Organizers of the effort to build the scholarship fund indicate a desire to generate an initial amount of $10,000.00 which would allow a scholarship to be granted as early as the fall 2004 semester.  Likely donors to the fund would be persons who have a connection to Beaver Island , visitors, summer and year-round residents, and of course alumni of the school who realize the importance of post-high school education. 

To find out more about this fund and how you can help build the perpetual endowment, you can attend the “afternoon tea” at 2:00 on December 10, 2003 at Kevin and Linda McDonough’s house, 26140 Pine Street , Beaver Island .  Charlevoix County Community Foundation President, Bob Tambellini, will be at the tea to present information about scholarship funds in general and about tax benefits for donations to the newly established scholarship fund.  Donations to the fund can be in any amount.  More information about the fund is available by calling or writing the Beaver Island Community School (231-448-2744), 37895 King’s Highway, Beaver Island , Michigan , 49782 or the Charlevoix County Community Foundation (231-547-2440), PO Box 718, East Jordan , Michigan , 49727.