On May 8, the AAPS is asking voters to approve a twenty-year renewal of its operating millage. Capped at 18 mills by state law, it’s been reduced to 17.3 mills by the Headlee Amendment, which limits tax increases to the rate of inflation.

“We are losing money,” Stead explains. “$1.3M this summer [tax collection] alone. Though the current millage won’t expire until next year, “this gap in what we are allowed to collect and what we are collecting will only increase.”

The renewal would Headlee-proof the millage by adding a 3-mill cushion, to 21 mills. The schools can’t collect more than 18–but the larger authorization will make sure it gets all that the state allows.

The operating millage, Stead says, is “our largest source of funds for operations.” The renewal would bring in about $85 million the first year, more than one-third of the district’s budget. Yet, Stead points out, the vast majority of property owners won’t pay more. “This one is largely for business and a couple of homestead types like second homes. This won’t affect taxes for 90 percent of people.”

“It’s not easy to ask people to tax themselves,” Stead says. But as other districts cut staff and services, “we see what’s happening around us and we know we don’t want that for our kids.”