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No doubt many News Hits’ readers are feeling as despondent as we are about the recent terrorist attacks — and president George W. Bush’s apparent intention to bomb someone. But we ask that this not keep Oakland County residents from going to the polls for a special election Tuesday, Sept. 25, and voting to increase funding for special education and vocational education programs.

Oakland County hasn’t asked residents to increase the special-education millage since 1985. The county’s 28 school districts were caught up in a 17-year legal battle with the state, which they say is federally mandated to fund the aforementioned programs. In the end, the state lost. But during that time districts were forced to stretch their budgets, and some, like the Troy schools, have gone millions of dollars into debt serving the growing number of students who need these services.

Today, about 23,000 Oakland County students are enrolled in special-education programs compared to 19,000 in 1987, according to Shelley Yorke Rose, communications director for Oakland Schools. But she says that the numbers “don’t tell the whole story.” Students with severe physical and emotional challenges and multi-impaired children are more expensive to serve and this population has skyrocketed in recent years with early diagnosis and a better understanding of special needs, she says.

If the special-education millage is approved, it will cost homeowners with homes having a market value of $125,000 just over $6 a month. The vocational education millage would cost a little more than $1 a month. For more information, check out www.oakland.k12.mi.us. Or call 248-209-2145.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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