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.

Phoenix May 13, 2011 at 11:31 PM
http://ferndale.patch.com/articles/moms-talk-how-do-you-teach-children-about-diversity Tom's comments about diversity and your family's experience with teachers. Due to my bias as to diversity issues and teachers I refrained from commenting in that conversation.
Tiffani Gagne May 14, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I don't get your issue Tony - Tom pointed out what actually happened with our own child. Your bias is your bias - you can't pin Tom and I with ANY kind of label when it comes to diversity!
Ardy May 14, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Again, in that comment Mr. Gagne is verbose with little substance; uses twenty-five cent words when a nickle word would doolitidoo just was well. The follow up from the same household leaves much to be desired. Using personal experience as fact is a bigloe "nope nope"; same goes for using opinion as fact, JSYK. I'm not the least bit surprised that your household had a "challenging interaction"; seems to be the rule save the exception.
Terry Parris Jr. May 14, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Tiffani: ardy is not a writer of Ferndale Patch.
Ardy May 14, 2011 at 12:56 AM
Again, swing and a miss. I am not employed by anything "patch". Watch it; your libel is showing. Bring what? History reflects that your household commonly presents (or are engaged in) "challenging interactions". Please define "Mess".
Ardy May 14, 2011 at 01:08 AM
FYI for those who may be wondering what happened; Tiff inferred in a post on this thread that I am on the patch payroll and that Terry needed to "reign me in". Tiff subsequently deleted her post that contained potential libel content.
Phoenix May 14, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Actually Tiff you cannot be labeled with Tom's words. That is true. However my statement was to a joint overview of statements made publicly. Part of those statements are what Tom said about diversity. The actualy data of what you encountered with your child is completely your own. We actually have many parallels that had had different outcomes. However only Tom can speak to the comments he made. ex: "It makes little sense to me that to bring children together we must first divide them." This to me makes little sense where teaching history and teaching where everyone comes from is considered dividing children. So you can think and say what you like. These comments an others show a bias against teachers and the experience of discovering where others have come from. Ah but as I said before. Only Tom to can speak to his comments. //Note to the viewers// Now it has to be said, that the negative posts by Tom & Tiff throughout Patch and other media need to be seen by people so they can check where they stand on several issues. Without having a line in the sand you'll not know where you stand with your own opinions. 85% of what they say I disagree with or take into consideration on how we can make the city better ever through the tough times.
Tiffani Gagne May 14, 2011 at 02:05 AM
Tony, you post very negative comments as well - the line in the sand can be drawn when we all agree to disagree.
Greg Pawlica May 14, 2011 at 03:17 AM
I'm gettting a little sick and tired of watching this continued feud between residents. Tony, Ardy, Tom and Tiffani, all deserve equal respect in this very public forum. I have to be honest here and say that these arguements tend to start with people attacking Tom and Tiffani. Seriously? Can't we just place our personal opinions here and not include othe people's names in your comments. I'm beginning to reconsider ever making a comment here on Patch because I know I'm going to end up with 50 emails that are just 4 or 5 people argueing back and forth without even discussing the content or the idea behind the original article. If you want to have these attack postings, go on Jerry Springer already.
Phoenix May 14, 2011 at 05:25 AM
Absolutely Greg. As long as we stick to not presenting opinions as fact or cannon we should be able to stay on topic. However if people choose to post incorrect or incomplete information we will get back to the same spot quickly.
Erik Roberts May 15, 2011 at 10:23 PM
There tends to be a lot of Ferndale Schools bashing going on at times accompanying these stories. Here is a positive spin on things and exactly why I can't wait to get my daughter back to Roosevelt (we had to bring her to the Chippewa Valley Schools because my wife works there and that is where I student taught and couldn't afford to pay for latch key). This is on the agenda for Monday's Board of Ed. meeting: Also invited to the meeting is Roosevelt Primary School Principal Dina Krause and members of her staff to celebrate the announcement that Roosevelt is one of 38 public schools nationwide to receive the National School of Character Award.
Audrey Langley May 16, 2011 at 01:52 AM
Confusion reigns as to why there is Ferndale Schools bashing on a Ferndale news site. Obviously we are here reading and responding to these stories because we are residents, regardless of where your children attend school. Here's what is bothersome--the same folks spouting to local media outlets (Ferndale Friends, The Patch, Woodward Talk, etc.) triumphantly declaring that their city and school district suck. Even if you believe that to be true: a) why are you living here? and b) why the bashing? How are negative comments and gleeful declarations of your local school districts failings something to crow about? Ex.:"2 pro-Ferndale families left for BETTER schools.." That is loaded language for real. "Better" is opinion and it's meant to ruffle feathers. No public school district is perfect but we can READ. I send my kids to school here because I know and trust those in charge to make decisions with parent input. Cuts from Lansing will also necessitate a millage. Will haters vote it down to spite their city and have our kids pay? Ack! Honestly how can folks without kids in the schools have the nerve to comment on issues that affect OUR students? That's bold. Non-constructive comments and trolling local outlets to spew forth venom against your neighbors...senseless. Ferndale kids deserve support, and that what it's all truly about: maintaining a successful school system for the students. You're supposed to uplift your community, not trash it. Disheartening to say the least.
T. Scott Galloway May 16, 2011 at 02:17 AM
I can understand if you don't like your city or school government and actively work to change it through the electoral process and by volunteering your time and talent. I can also understand if you don't like your city or school government and "vote with your feet" by relocating. What I will never understand is doing neither and simply complaining. The unfortunate thing is that many of the people who complain the loudest have a lot to offer the city and could effectuate tremendous change within Ferndale for the better if they simply chose to be constructive rather than destructive in their efforts. I don't think that means being a cheerleader but it must mean being something more than a bomb thrower.
Amy Francis May 16, 2011 at 10:33 AM
Thanks for commenting on this Greg. I think this is getting overlooked, and I've been trying to get more information on the buildings as well. Why is nearly 9million going to a cluster of buildings when our current buildings need so much repair? Sounds like there are a lot of ideas being thrown around--all of which could save the district money in the long run (in rental fees) or become a revenue source, but there aren't any solid plans. It could be a great investment if we had the money to do it or if there was a strong plan for a quick ROI, but not at a time when we're seeing cuts coming from Lansing and when our other buildings are in need of so much.
Terry Parris Jr. May 16, 2011 at 01:58 PM
Amy: Just to be clear, none of these projects have been finalized yet. There will be a subcommittee established to examine what is priority, what isn't, what stays and what goes.
T. Scott Galloway May 16, 2011 at 02:11 PM
I'm ignorant as to finances of the school district and the strategies a district must now employ to remain solvent. This may be a shrewd move by the district. I don't know. It certainly has a negative impact on municipal finances, but if it is good for the school district I think it is ultimately good for the residents of Ferndale even if it is bad for the municipal corporation, the City of Ferndale. But my question is how does the school district pay for the massive environmental remediation that presumably must take place before that place is safe for kids? Brownfield credits - a traditional means of site cleanup - are not an option. Would the school district be better off if the site were redeveloped by private entities and the additional tax dollars flowing to the City and the District used to improve programming and infrastructure? Lots to think about and investigate before February.
Terry Parris Jr. May 16, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Scott: That's one of my questions, too. I'm looking to speak with Gary today and write a follow up to the Hayes site.
Audrey Langley May 16, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I am not an expert on district finances either, but I know that Adult Ed. makes the school district a lot of money. The project would consolidate the three adult education programs in one building and perhaps make room for more students. This would make more $$ for the district. It would also keep all the students in one building with easy access to and from 8 Mile and prevent the adult ed. students from venturing into the neighborhoods. Residents around Taft and Jefferson are concerned because of criminal incidents involving adult ed. students. I guess that building would alleviate that problem? Just a guess...
Terry Parris Jr. May 16, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Audrey: One point to that was Meier said having the bus line right there on Eight Mile would be beneficial for the Alt. Ed. program housed all on the Hayes sight. And though ideas seem very preliminary at this point, there was talk about expanding the program.
Audrey Langley May 16, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Roosevelt's accomplishment is amazing good news. Here is another recent accomplishment for the schools: http://www.nammfoundation.org/press-room/namm-foundation-record-number-programs-earn-distinction-best-community-music-education Ferndale School District's music program was named one of the "Best Communities for Music Education" by the NAMM Foundation. Everyone should share these recognitions! The good things sometimes get crowded out so pass it around!
Phoenix May 16, 2011 at 03:58 PM
It's unfortunate that people have to try and tear down the positive things in the community. There are quite a few of the middle & high school students that are reading and watching their schools be attacked on a regular basis. The cool thing is our kids are smart enough to see through it to the truth. You can't take the wind out of their sails with negativity.
Derek Pratley May 16, 2011 at 05:43 PM
Wow, so much discussion on this topic. It's great to see people so caring & involved. I do want to address Audrey's point about residents who don't have children in the school district (me being one who doesn't have chidren at all) being able to comment though. As a tax payer, the most that I personally can expect is the best value for money being provided for the students from the school district from my tax dollars - as such I feel I have the right to ask the question how wisely is the money being spent... If the community sees good results (not necessarilly thru test marks) from the school system, the City could be seen as a more desirable place to live, for all residents. Being "in a good place" tends to make other good things happen in the community, spiralling everything upwards over time. Therefore - how much are we paying per student in the school district / how much does that compare to other districts / how much is that affected if this potential millage renewal passes or fails?
Terry Parris Jr. May 16, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Derek: I'm working on a piece about per pupil spending currently. Those numbers are somewhat in flux for the next year considering Gov. Snyder's proposed cuts to public ed. With that said, the bond issue would be for infrastructure improvements, not for per pupil funding.
Greg Pawlica May 16, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Terry, I think you bring up an interesting point...or perhaps I see an interesting angle to your investigative piece. It would interesting to see how much is directly spent on a child in the Ferndale Public Schools -- those costs directly associated with each student such as books, paper, pencils, meals, teachers (not administrators), --- those costs directly impacting the education of a child in a classroom. Then, identify the costs of administration...secretaries, custodial, etc...those costs that are NOT directly tied to the child's education. Then, identify the costs of running the buildings within the district...heating, air conditioning, leasing, building maintenance, etc. I think it would be interesting to see what those three areas cost are per student...
Terry Parris Jr. May 16, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Greg: Don't give away all of my ideas! Just kidding.
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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