Editorial: Vote YES for Clarkston schools bond

Whether or not you have kids attending school, one thing that touches everybody in the Clarkston community is the Clarkston Community Schools district.
On Tuesday, August 2, they are asking area voters to pass a $75 million bond extension. The Clarkston News urges voters to support this proposal.
Current funding levels for all of the state’s 540-plus districts originated from Proposal A in 1994 – in an effort to keep folks from being taxed out of their homes. Pre Proposal A was funded mostly through property taxes, meaning districts with more industrial property received more funding.
Proposal A switched to a sales tax base aiming to equalize funding across the state. The state did not reduce the funding levels for districts which received more at that time.
They’ve attempted to bring up the bottom over the years, but there is still a significant gap. The state “pays” districts based on headcount and performance. Despite receiving less per student than districts like Waterford ($7,540 per student), Lake Orion ($8,123), Royal Oak ($8,818), and Birmingham ($11,984), Clarkston administration, board of education, teachers, and staff have all done a remarkable job with their per-pupil allotment – this year slated to go up $120 per student to $7,511.
A testament to their commitment to not only education, but the finances of providing a quality education, is their standings in the 2016 Michigan Education Finance Study. Clarkston was one of only 58 districts in the state meeting above average performance standards with a Notably Successful ranking. The district has tightened their proverbial belts and proven themselves fiscally responsible.
Is this bond proposal perfect? No. Clarkston News readers, in their previous letters to us, have pointed out some of the flaws, but this does not diminish the needs the district has in the here and now.
After Prop A was passed, it became the responsibility of each community to keep their buildings in good working condition. It is time again to invest in the school district.
We believe the $75 million bond is a good way to get our schools the money needed to keep the buildings in working order and keep our students up-to-date with the technology they will need to compete as they grow into adulthood.
In our series on the bond, school-by-school, we have documented the structural needs . . . these problems will not go away and the longer repairs and upgrades are put off, the harder and more expensive they will be to fix.
We all understands property – buildings, infrastructure, even sidewalks and parking lots, have a shelf-life. The schools’ technology networks need upgrading, as does building security, heating systems, windows, doors, and lighting.
Their computers are Windows XP – which are no longer supported by the manufacturer. We cannot turn back the hands of time and go to a system of black boards, chalk and Number 2 pencils. Technology is here and we must – at the least – remain current.
By voting YES on August 2, bonds will be sold this November and the district should get funds soon after. Tech upgrades can begin immediately after the sale and start to be phased in during the 2016-2017 school year. Putting off this bond issue for another one down the road puts off repairs and upgrades for at least another year. This is too long of a wait.
Again, we urge voters to support the $75 million schools bond. Vote YES on August 2.
– Don Rush

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