JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Jackson College officials have not had a new millage assessment in nearly 60 years. Despite more than a dozen asks – including Tuesday night – voters have not opened their wallets.
With the defeat of a request for nearly a million dollars a year in new millage money, students are worried they may end up footing some of the bill for building improvements and security enhancements.
Jackson College Board of Trustees Chair John Crist said the school’s leadership is no stranger to making the call on paying bills when voters reject millages.
Daniel Scott, a first-year student at Jackson College, said he has bills to pay, and worries the college will tack additional costs onto his tuition bill next year to pay for items the millage was supposed to cover.
“I feel like tuition going up would be crazy, honestly,” he said. “And a lot of people here are already on financial aid. There’s a lot of people that go here that need assistance.”
The Detroit native said he was surprised the millage failed, considering it would have increased security and improved the buildings.
Crist says the money would have also beefed up the school’s cyber security, which is not a luxury. For instance, Jackson and Hillsdale Public Schools were hit with ransomware attacks in November of 2022. Those attacks locked the schools out of their computers and caused days of missed schooling.
Crist said the last millage Jackson County voters approved was in 1964. But he remains hopeful, based on returns, that the county may shift to approving a millage in the future.
“I think one of the key elements to this is that we’ve had some situations happening in the college here, which I think may have caused some problems with that, okay,” Crist said. “Although I know by looking at the numbers and so forth, this is the least number of difference between pluses and minus.”
This loss hits as the college is already under pressure from students and faculty concerned about discrimination and sexual harassment along with how complaints about both have been handled by the college.
The Board has begun the process to initiate an outside investigation into those, and similar complaints.
In previous years, Jackson College leaders have backfilled funding needs with tuition increases.
“The problem is, we have students paying that larger tuition and it’s still not as big as the bigger colleges and so forth,” Crist said.
Scott, the student, said with the cost of education increasing, the dream of a degree is harder to reach.
“It’s going to be more hectic to get these scholarships and financial aid, that kind of stuff,” he said. “So tuition going up is not a good idea, at least not here.”
Crist said the Board will review the election outcomes. Depending on that analysis, voters could be asked to open their wallets again in the future.