After-school funding proposal in Wayne County doesn’t make make March ballot, but backers ‘are not giving up’

The future of a millage proposal that would have raised money to pay for after-school programs in Wayne County is in flux after the initiative failed to make it onto the March 10 ballot.

Leaders of that effort, though, say they aren’t giving up. The proposal is trying to address a $55 million funding shortfall in after-school programs across the county. 

They say officials from the Wayne County clerk’s office told them in early January that the nearly 90,000 signatures that were submitted to the county in order to get the proposal on the ballot couldn’t be counted in time.

But the reason is unclear since the group — Wayne Kids Win! — met the county’s Dec. 3 deadline for submitting signatures. They also submitted well over the required 53,000 signatures. County election officials could not be reached for comment. The issue was first reported Friday afternoon by Crain’s Detroit.

“We are very disappointed,” said Mark Fisk, a spokesman for the Wayne Kids Win! group. “We had an amazing and overwhelmingly positive response to the proposal, and we believe it should go on the ballot.”

The effort has been endorsed by a number of high-profile individuals advocating for after-school programs: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, and DTE Energy President and CEO Jerry Norcia. 

“Right now, we are regrouping,” Fisk said. “We’re exploring our options. We are not giving up, in any way, on this important effort to increase access to after-school programs.”

Fisk said the group would look at getting the proposal on the ballot again, possibly in August or November. It’s unclear if they would need to collect signatures again.

The one-mill, five-year proposal would have generated about $42.5 million annually for five years, and go toward programs “that promote safety, improve math and reading skills, help develop work-readiness skills and provide recreation for Wayne County children and youth” after school, on weekends, and during the summer.