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School Board Seeks Bond Extension for Infrastructure Improvements

February vote approval wouldn't raise taxes, Superintendent Gary Meier says.

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.

Taxable Value Growth History Year Growth Rate $734,412,830 2006
$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.

Gary Arnett May 16, 2011 at 09:54 PM
Ferndale Public Schools Annual Budget http://www.ferndaleschools.org/administration/budget.html ...and Mr. Pawlica, there are, in some cases hundreds of items in the 3 categories you mentioned, and unless Terry gets an extra part-time job to supplement that extra work, I doubt he could compile all of it.
Terry Parris Jr. May 16, 2011 at 09:58 PM
I'll need to hire an intern or two or three to help out.
Liz Banks May 17, 2011 at 12:52 AM
I have been a public education teacher for 16 years so when our son was getting close to school age I spent a ton of time and energy researching and visiting both private and public schools in several different districts. As an educator I look at a lot of things that someone not in the field of education might not think about. After two years of research and speaking with countless parents, administrators, and teachers, my husband and I choose to enroll our son in Ferndale Schools. He is just finishing kindergarten and has had a great year. There are so many great things happening in Ferndale Schools and I am truly amazed at how incredible the parents are. Again, 16 years in education in two different districts and I have never seen the type of parental involvement and support that I have witnessed this year. My husband and I made the right decision for our family when we choose Ferndale as the school district for our children.
Audrey Langley May 17, 2011 at 02:42 AM
Derek--of course as a resident and taxpayer (even without kids in the district), you should absolutely know how your school district is being run. You have a stake in the education of our kids because they are your neighbors and my highest hope is that Ferndale's residents understand that "it takes a village" even if you are not a parent. What I was trying to address was the attitude of "well the school district sucks because the MEAP scores don't meet my expectations",then sending your children out of the district...then in turn slamming our schools. This filters down to citizens who aren't familiar and take the information as fact. My fear is that they look at MEAPS, listen to the slams, then make their decisions based on that. It's disheartening that we are even put in a defensive position at all! I am not one of those residents that cares where/why others choose to send kids elsewhere. I disagree we should "chase" after them when they go. Wasted energy. Energy better spent maintaining, improving, and providing opportunities for the kids we have enrolled right now. Presently. You will never convince some parents this district is better than ones in more affluent communities regardless of MEAP scores. This creative community with a fine arts focus is not for everyone. But I digress...point is that YES indeed you should know how well your tax money is being spent but my hope is that citizens investigate further than the hype to find out about the schools.
Phoenix May 17, 2011 at 09:44 PM
And yes more positive news. Congrats to both seniors. http://ferndale.patch.com/articles/two-ferndale-high-school-seniors-roosevelt-primary-school-recognized-by-school-board#photo-6107787

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