The unanimously approved a study to examine a School Bond Loan Fund ballot question that would levy $26.55 million for school improvements.
"We have a window of opportunity here to maximize our bond capacity and do so without a tax increase," Ferndale Schools Superintendent Gary Meier said at Monday night's meeting. "If we move beyond this window, we lost both capacity and the ability to have it be a no new taxes issue."
By holding the election in February, the 7-mill bond approval would extend the current bond. Taxes would not be raised, Meier said. The February ballot also allows the district to capture the most from property taxes.
Waiting until May 2012 would still be a no new tax issue, but because of another projected drop in property values, the bond would capture $19.25 million – instead of $26.55 million in a February vote.
$771,500,120 2007 4.91 percent $778,356,320 2008 0.89 percent $774,491,680 2009 -0.50 percent $708,635,130 2010 -8.50 percent $666,117,022 (est.) 2011 -6 percent
"We have an opportunity right now to go before the public to ask to do these projects," board member Jim Pfleger said. "If we wait a year or two, we have less opportunity, less money."
Meier added that waiting would probably put off upgrades on the schools for seven to 10 years.
The biggest improvement the bond addresses is the abatement of asbestos in the ceilings of the high school and middle school. The project would also replace the ceiling and light fixtures throughout the building. Bill Weinrauch of TMP Architecture Inc., estimates this would cost $5.2 million.
Other items include mechanical upgrades of heating, ventilating and air conditioning units throughout the schools, as well as replacements of various walkways, asphalt paving, fencing and carpet replacements, and a number of technology upgrades.
Weinrauch presented nearly $26 million in immediate improvements and about $14 million in alternative projects.
Weinrauch said the asbestos removal would be completed in phases during the summer. He said abating the 400,000 square feet of the high school and middle school will be a slow process. "We'd break it into a couple of phases over two years," he said. "Work won't be done in the building during school."
Now that the approval has been given to proceed on the bond question, an application process begins, as well as refining and prioritizing the lengthy list of upgrades. The refinement will include a committee and then a campaign group of faculty, staff, community members and administrations to explain why Ferndale should vote for the bond.
"These improvements leave nothing to the imagination," Meier said. "These are all issues we need. We know we have to get rid of the asbestos. … And we can do that without raising taxes."
Below are the bond projects and the alternative projects identified by TMP Architecture, Inc., and George W. Auch Co. For a full detail of proposed infrastructure improvements and upgrades go .Bond projects Estimated cost / $14,327,000 $1,494,000 $548,000 $510,000 $253,000 $793,500 $248,000 $829,000 $308,000 $370,000 Bus garage/warehouse $73,000 Districtwide technology projects $4,374,000 Districtwide projects $1,825,000 Bond total $25,952,500
Alternative Bond projects
Ferndale High School/Middle School $3,734,000 John F. Kennedy School $150,000 Grant Early Childhood Center $285,000 Taft Education Center $350,000 Jefferson Center $950,000 CASA $800,000 Hayes & Lemmerz $7,500,000 Alternative projects total $13,769,000
Data from TMP Architecture Inc. and George W. Auch Co.