The presidential election year gives Michigan school districts an extra opportunity to ask local voters to raise taxes to finance construction projects. The approach of that extra election date highlights the need for a more inclusive and transparent election process.
In Michigan, unlike in some other states, the burden to finance a school’s buildings falls almost entirely on a district’s local taxpayers, with little more than indirect support from the state. But many of the voters paying for those upgrades have a hard time finding out about these proposals. Last year, a group of citizens in an Upper Peninsula community expressed their frustrations with an August school bond election. Voters, they say, did not receive adequate notification from the district, and about three in four voters failed to turn out. The measure narrowly passed.