(Crystal A. Proxmire, 1/7/2012)
On Feb 28, 2012 voters will be asked to vote for or against a millage that would extend the current millage, which is at a rate of 7 mills, in order to raise money for infrastructure improvements in the Ferndale School District. Currently the bond is set to expire in 2023, but if approved it would extend taxpayer’s obligation to 2033. The money would be used to eliminate asbestos in school buildings, repair heating systems, upgrade wiring and other technological needs, pool repairs and other repairs.
A committee of 20 parents and concerned community members met for two months over the summer to learn about what the needs of the District are and how a bond might help keep the District strong in the face of aging buildings and declining property tax revenue. The group took tours of each building and went over the numbers in detail, while considering what projects might take priority over others. Read about the Ferndale High School and Middle School tour at http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/07/14/bond-committee-gets-tour-of-fhs-troubles/.
An application submitted to the State Treasury describes the bond, including the language that will appear on the ballot. The application, which includes details about what the money will be used for, can be downloaded here.
Ferndale Schools is hosting a series of community meetings to discuss the needs of the district. The remaining meetings will be held on:
Mon, Jan 23 at Ferndale High School from 6:30-8:30 pm
Mon, Jan 30 at Ferndale Library from 6-8 pm
And a group of parents and supporters has formed Citizens for Quality Schools to encourage people to vote for the millage. Their website http://www.citizensforqualityschools.org/ lists those who are endorsing the bond as well as information about upcoming meetings.
Their first meeting will be Monday, Jan 9 at Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church with a meet-and-greet at 6pm and the meeting to begin at 7:30pm.
There is not yet any organized opposition to the bond, although some negative comments have been posted online on various discussion sites. On the Ferndale 115 News Facebook page, Gail Stanton wrote “I will be voting no. Tired of refurbishing schools on my tax dollars that are then rented out for non-resident users, Taft as an example.” The School District owns several buildings, including Taft which holds Adult and Alternative Education Classes, and University High School which gives mainly out-of-district students a college prep education. Both of these programs bring additional state funding, and more pupils, into the district in a time when the student population is declining.
However, proponents of the millage have a much stronger web presence thus far, with Citizens for Quality Schools touting over 60 endorsers thus far.
Amy Butters, an active parent and one of Citizens for Quality School’s organizers, told Ferndale 115 News “I support the bond. This is an extension of a millage that residents are already paying, and the projects on the list are not glamorous but necessary. If the district didn’t have the bond money to use toward these projects, school officials would have to consider using money that would otherwise be directed toward academic programs.
‘With state funding levels decreasing more and more, it’s just reality that school districts must ask voters for help. I’m especially interested in the asbestos removal project — with that taken care of, the high school will be in a better position to make more cost-efficient and energy-efficient repairs. When a light fixture needs replacing, more environmentally friendly bulbs can be installed without the extra costs of asbestos removal,” Butters said.
Resident Greg Pawlica chimed in as well. “The passage of this bond is crucial to the continued progress of our school system, and the fact that it won’t raise our taxes is just a bonus,” Pawlica said.
Ferndale Schools has also launched a page on their website dedicated to informing the public about the bond issue. That can be found at http://www.ferndaleschools.org/administration/bond.html.
Also check out our previous stories: