Supporting seniors, community activities, activities for children and all ages, and potentially a community center are all possible things a Recreation Millage could fund in Dexter.
However, before that can happen, a mileage question would need to gain the approval of the majority of school district voters.
The idea of a recreational mile was presented at the April 11 meeting of the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education. During the meeting, DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis made a presentation on this topic and then he and the school board began discussions that are expected to continue at the next school board meeting.
In his slide presentation, Timmis first explained what a recreation mile is: “The Recreation Authorities Act 321 of 2000 provides for the creation of a recreation authority, a municipality, a school district, or a combination of two or multiple municipalities or school districts to bring a ballot proposal to voters of not more than 1 million over a period of 20 years on all taxable property in the territory of the authority.The Recreation Millage may be used, in the case of a school district, to pay for community recreation, construction/maintenance of recreation facilities, and programming for residents of the district.
He then cited some county school districts with recreational mileage: Saline Area Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools and Whitmore Lake Public Schools.
An important part of a potential mileage is stable funding.
Reviewing how certain community activities and services are currently funded, Timmis said the following:
Dexter Senior Center: Dexter Senior Center receives only 20% of its funding from local agencies, 80% of which comes from grants and donations. Dexter Senior Center operates with less than a third of what is provided in neighboring communities (ie Chelsea and Saline).
DCS Community Education Programs: All activities offered as part of community education are 100% chargeable.
All DCS CPA, swimming pools, grounds, playgrounds: Operated from the DCS Base Per Pupil Allocation to fund K-12 education for a minimum of 180 days per year and 1,098 instructional hours.
His presentation touched on a big question, why should DCS consider proposing a recreation village?
He broke the answer down into specific areas:
“Community interest: Over the past few years, various community entities have conducted surveys, focus groups and studies (i.e. for children and the need for a community center.
“Community values: Our community is connected through Dexter Community Schools. No matter what township or city our community members reside in, they are all at “Dexter”. DCS community members are connected to each other by geography and activities within the community. Our students and the high quality of life in our community are protected through our collective commitment to our schools and to each other. Our collaborative approach to supporting the entire community demonstrates that all voices are respected and supported.
« Dexter Seniors – We all have an obligation to support our elders who have built this community and continue to support our children. Each year the Dexter Senior Center must raise funds to provide programs for seniors in our community. DCS has always provided space to Dexter Senior Center and may continue to provide space to Dexter Senior Center to use sustainable funding and programs to support healthy and fulfilling aging for Dexter seniors.
“Community accessibility: Currently, Dexter Community Schools serves as Dexter’s community recreation department on a 100% fee-based system that limits opportunities for Dexter adults and children.
“Raising a child involves more than just a classroom experience. Education is a combination of experiences offered in the classroom, with a child’s family and throughout the community.
The school board’s initial discussion included questions about needs and how eventual recreational mileage would be managed. Additionally, the board explained that it would be a mileage for the entire community, with the school district acting as a vehicle to bring in the funding if approved by voters.
Timmis’ presentation ended by discussing how the DCS school board might consider placing a proposal on a future ballot. He said the proposal could not ask for more than 1.0 million for 20 years.
“1.0 mill would generate about $1.4 million in the first year,” according to Timmis.
The DCS Board of Directors should approve a resolution at least 60 days before an election.
The presentation ended with an answer to the question, what could DCS fund with a recreation village?
“Stable funding for Dexter’s senior business and location in a DCS facility (approximately $300,000 per year)
“Elimination of participation fees for MC/DHS athletics through facility mileage support and maintenance to offset athletics operating costs (approximately $200,000 per year)
“Supporting youth and adult enrichment through a funded community recreation program (approximately $500,000 per year):
- Support for the Dexter community and DCS Fine Arts (art, music, theater)
- Youth Enrichment and Recreation Support
- Support for adult enrichment and recreation
“Support for a potential future DCS Community Center (approximately $400,000 per year) open to the DCS community during the day and evening.”
During the discussion, school board vice president Elise Bruderly said she thought the mileage might appeal to the community. She said it was good to have the discussion now.
School board treasurer Dick Lundy said it could be about quality of life and what the community wants. He said the mileage wouldn’t really be school-driven, but rather would be a response to community needs.
The next school board meeting is April 25 and the mileage is expected to be discussed again. School counselor Melanie Szawara said it would be important to get feedback from the community.
To see the full presentation, go to https://www.dexterschools.org/district/board-of-education.