APS preparing for millage forums

ALPENA – Alpena Public Schools Superintendent Brent Holcomb is hosting three community meetings in February to discuss any questions residents have about the upcoming regional enhancement millage. The millage will be placed on the Feb. 26 ballot for Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District voters who will decide if local school districts will receive additional funding through three mills for the next 10 years.

“We have three big community meetings in February,” Holcomb said. “I want everyone to feel like they had the opportunity to know why we’re seeking help. The meetings will be full blown. Come on in; everyone’s welcome, let’s talk.”

Besides preparing for the upcoming meetings, Holcomb also hosted a variety of informational meetings about the enhancement millage at each APS building. However, he said the next meetings will serve as an opportunity for the community to ask questions and learn why APS is facing a $2 million deficit, what cuts have been made to resolve the issue, and how the district would spend the millage money.

“A lot of parents have asked me why we’re asking for a millage,” he said. “I want to answer why there is a problem. I want people to understand we haven’t been sitting idly by not doing anything.”

According to Holcomb, APS is facing three big pieces that are out of control, including rapid declining enrollment, drops in state aid, and higher costs of expenses. He said over the past few years APS has lost twice the amount of students compared to state average, losing approximately 700 students in six years.

“Our goal is to replace buses, restore buildings, bring in new technology, and make curriculum purchases, updating our placeholders that we can’t put off any longer,” he said. “There’s no loophole, this is the law. Proposal A just gives us the option to retain local control to help our school districts and communities … Even if people don’t like the message, they can respect that we’re here to answer their questions.”

All AMA ESD residents are invited to attend the meetings in the Alpena High School auditorium on Feb. 7, 11 and 21 at 7 p.m. Some of the issues Holcomb will address include why additional funds are needed, how it will be used if approved by voters, what will happen if the millage doesn’t pass, and any other questions residents have about the millage.

Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at esiegmon@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.