School bond vote in August

After months of discussion, a $75,980,000 bond proposal for the Clarkston Community Schools, will appear on the Aug. 2 ballot.
“The board has gone through a very exhaustive process starting with surveying our community, meeting with our stakeholder groups, engaging with GMB Architecture and Engineering group to visit all of our sites and do an exhaustive inspection,” explained Board President Steve Hyer. “As a board we’ve deliberated on what our needs are and that brings us to a point tonight where we’re looking to move forward with a bond proposal.”
The board voted 5-1 in favor of the proposal. Board Secretary Susan Boatman voted “no” and Trustee Craig Hamilton was absent.
Because they’re placing the proposal on the August ballot, Hyer noted they could have funds as early as November, which could affect students in the next school year, and was an important factor to the board.
The election will also not cost the district money as it’s being placed on a regularly scheduled primary election.
“I will reiterate that this is a no millage rate increase proposal, so this allows us to extend some of our existing bonding,” Hyer added. “Our millage rate stays at seven mills, so people will not see an increase in their tax bill because their rate will not increase, it just goes longer. They won’t see a decrease if they vote ‘no’ either because the millage will stay at seven (mills) either way.”
Knowing that her vote wouldn’t change the outcome, Boatman said the “very expensive bond” will limit the district’s availability for a state qualified loan in the future.
“I think there are some very valuable things in this bond, but I also thing there are other things that are wants and not needs,” she said. “I think people need to look at the detail and think about 30 years of interest on some of these items when they go to vote.”
Board Treasurer Kelli Horst said she’s confident on the process they went through to arrive at the current proposal.
“When I look at focus of this to be a sites and facilities plan and having identified what we need in the next 10 years and what we need in the next five years. I became more comfortable as we went on that these are the needs that will make us a competitive district, attractive to communities around us, people who might be looking to move into Clarkston and will really bring us up to what the standard is that some of the more competitive districts in our region are doing,” Horst said. “So I became very comfortable what was on this need’s list. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought August would be the appropriate time simply because I sensed a real sense of urgency when we asked for feedback from our community. People recognized these were needs and want them taken care of and don’t want to wait.”
Trustee Cheryl McGinnis believes the proposal is a “win-win for both the community and the students.”
“We, the board also know based on the parameters required of us to calculate the payback that the payback includes a negative year during the economic downturn. We also know that equation of payback is required of us by the state,” she said. “We anticipate based on our current positive SEV growth that the payback will be much quicker than what these documents state.”
If approved the funds would be spent over the course of five years, allowing for the gradual implementation of a long-term Master Plan for Clarkston Community Schools.
All school buildings would receive remodeled, secure entryways, and pedestrian and vehicle traffic challenges would be addressed and improved to create safer environments for students, staff and visitors.
All schools would receive building and site improvements. Roofs, boilers, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems along with cabinetry, casework and equipment would be updated or replaced, extending the life of the District’s school buildings, and enhancing energy efficiency and improving air quality. Updated classroom furnishings and targeted remodeling would create collaborative learning spaces in every educational facility to meet the needs of 21st century education.
Over the course of the next couple months, The Clarkston News will report in depth on the bond issue.