SARANAC COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Frequently asked questions

 

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Welcome! 

The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and factual information regarding our District Facilities and our upcoming Bond proposal on May 8, 2018. 

If you have a question that is not addressed here, please contact Superintendent Jason Smith at (616) 642-1400 to have your question answered. 

 

  1. Why are we considering a bond issue?

Through the Board of Education’s 2015-2020 Strategic Planning process, a complete facility assessment was done, including community and staff input beginning in the summer/fall of 2017; it was determined that we have several facility needs that cannot be addressed through current funding.  In order to not negatively impact taxpayers, we set a goal early on to try and not increase the tax millage rate.  This bond proposal is intended to continue our existing millage rate to make necessary improvements to our buildings and sites.

 

More information on the districts 2015-2020 Strategic Plan is available on our district website here.

 

  1. When was the Facility Needs Assessment completed and what did it say?

The Facility Needs Assessment was professionally compiled by the construction management firm of Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. and the architectural firm Tower Pinkster, during the fall of 2017.  It examined district owned buildings and grounds regarding items related to safety & security, accessibility, structural, electrical, exterior & interior conditions, mechanical (heating/cooling/plumbing), and general site items.  A Final Report and master plan was presented to our internal staff on October 25, a community dialogue meeting was held on October 30 and the School Board meeting was held on November 2, 2017 to approve the package.

 

The Facilities Needs Assessment recommended several immediate facility upgrades, based on an industry standard.  The highest needs were narrowed down to items that need to be addressed in the next 1 to 5 years.  It is understood that the School Board will need to review the needs list in 5 years and determine at that time what additional items may need to be addressed.

 

  1. What is the School District doing to maintain our buildings?

Our maintenance staff has done an excellent job maintaining our facilities, but some of our equipment is at the end of its useful life.  The oldest classrooms in our high school date back to 1963 and the mechanical and electrical systems are now 50 years old!  These systems are in need of replacement to maintain a more efficient and healthy educational environment.

 

 

  1. Will student and staff safety and security be addressed in any facilities upgrades?

                Yes!  The district takes the safety and security of our students, staff, parents, and visitors as its highest priority. The potential project would include secure entries, updated locking systems, and cameras in both the junior/senior high and elementary.

 

  1. What is the financial impact to homeowners with this bond proposal?

This bond vote would result in an expected zero millage increase for our citizens. (It should be noted that those individuals who qualify for the Homestead Property Tax Credit would pay less than the full amount when they file their income taxes, and the Tax Calculator program calculates that Credit for those who may qualify.)

 

  1. How long are the terms of this bond proposal?

                The Bonds are scheduled for 19 years and 9 months, not counting potential refunding in future years. The current bonds are scheduled to be paid off in 2032. With doing this bond, the districted is projected to extend the bond loan another 4 years to the year 2036.

 

  1. Would our taxes go down in 2018 if this bond proposal is voted down?

                No.  All previous bond issues in the district have their own pay-off schedule through Michigan’s School Bond Loan Fund and will not increase or decrease regardless of the outcome of this bond proposal.

 

  1. Why have a bond vote now?
  • Due to some of our debt being paid off, we can provide facility improvements with no expected increase to the millage rate.
  • The facility assessment provides a master plan for replacement of our current infrastructure. The total list of needs is significant, but we are only asking voters for authority to address our most pressing needs.
  • Our maintenance staff has done a great job in maintaining our buildings using our operational budget; however, our General Fund balance has gone from $1,410,100 in 2013 to $432,945 in 2016. We cannot continue to fund large projects out of our general fund budget.
  • Many large, or expensive improvement projects, are due to be addressed now or very soon.
  • We have closed the Middle School building in order to save money and we can now allocate our resources to our remaining buildings.

 

  1. Who was involved in determining what to include?

Initially we started with our own internal list and combined it with the Facility Needs Assessment, a Public Forum and staff interviews to review and prioritize the potential scope of our needs. 

 

Specifically for the May 8, 2018 bond proposal, the School Board, Superintendent, staff and community input determined that this proposal be presented to voters.  While the district could have asked for a larger amount, the items included at this time will address our most pressing needs and will not hamper future decisions.  We believe in a “pay-as-you-go” program.

 

  1. What does this bond proposal include?

The School Board determined at its November 2, 2017 meeting to place this proposal on the May 8, 2018 ballot.  This Proposal includes:

 

  • Major infrastructure upgrades to both schools, including parking lots and driveways, roofing, and mechanical / electrical improvements.
  • Elementary improvements include: a secure vestibule, selected flooring and roofing.
  • A major remodeling to the oldest section of the high school to include: a secure entrance, canopy and office remodel, mechanical / electrical and architectural classroom improvements and driveway and underdrain upgrades.
  • Replacement of some buses, furniture and educational technology equipment.
  • A $5,500,000 bond request for an expected zero mill increase.

 

 

 

  1. Is our enrollment growing or declining?

Stanfred Consultants provided the enrollment projections to be included in our application to the Michigan Department of Treasury.  From 2013 to 2017, the district has declined by 203 students.    This projection indicates that we currently have 918 K-12 students and we will be at approximately 859 students by 2022.  With declining enrollment, it is even more challenging to maintain our buildings since our State aid is based on the number of students. On a positive note, the birth rates are expected to rise and the housing market in our area has improved greatly.

 

Despite the fact that we are declining in enrollment, our facilities still be need to be improved.

 

  1. What is happening with the Middle School?

The building is for sale and when it is sold, the proceeds could be used to help pay off existing debt, or fund needed projects that fit within the original bond language.  When the district sold the property at 88 Pleasant, a portion of the sale went into the district’s general fund and a portion was set aside for projects that were included in the original bond language.

 

 

  1. How will technology needs be addressed through this bond?

There is approximately $200,000 included in technology improvements throughout the district.  We have been managing to provide a high level of technology education and this bond issue will directly impact students in this regard.

 

  1. When is the last day to register to vote, and where and how does a person get registered?

The deadline to register in time for the May 8, 2018 election is April 5, 2018 (at least 30 days prior to the election).  Registering to vote may be done through any Secretary of State office or with your city or township clerk.  Visit the Secretary of State’s Michigan Voter Information Center website at https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/ for more information about registering to vote and absentee ballots.

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