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 Chippewa Valley Schools is in the process of looking to put a new bond proposal on the November ballot that would address growing security concerns, as well as parking lot, facility and technology upgrades.

Chippewa Valley Schools is in the process of looking to put a new bond proposal on the November ballot that would address growing security concerns, as well as parking lot, facility and technology upgrades.

File photo by Joshua Gordon

Chippewa Valley Schools eye new bond proposal for November

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 8, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP?MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Chippewa Valley Schools may be sending another bond proposal to voters in November, only 18 months after the last proposal was voted down in May 2017.

The Board of Education approved at the July 16 meeting to send a bond application to the Michigan Department of Treasury, which signifies to the state that the district is contemplating putting a bond proposal on the ballot this fall.

Superintendent Ron Roberts said this was the first step of the process of actually approving a proposal as the state has to know of any potential proposals in order to prepare for it as part of the School Loan Revolving Fund. The next step would be for the board to approve the proposal for the election, with a vote expected to take place at the Aug. 13 board meeting.

Roberts said the proposed bond is for about $97 million, up from the $89.9 million that was requested during the May 2017 election. The additional money is mainly to address safety concerns at the schools following an uptick of school threats across the state in the past six months.

“The original bond was our starting point and there are still many things in that bond that were identified as needs still,” Roberts said. “But since then, of course, your needs grow and this bond includes much more in the area of school security. It has evolved out of what has happened in the last year in schools after (the Florida shooting).”

After the May 2017 proposal did not pass, Roberts said the administrative team took the past school year to collect data and speak to the community on what was important to them as part of a new bond proposal. The district held some focus groups and talked to residents with and without children, Roberts said, to find out what those who don’t necessarily benefit directly from the schools think.

Through that process, Roberts said, school safety was the most important thing to most people and was identified as the strongest need for the district.

While the proposal is not finalized, Roberts said if it moves forward, it would include designs on altering entrances to both Dakota High School and Chippewa Valley High School so visitors are not walking right into the building with full access.

At Dakota, for example, Roberts said a new inner foyer would provide a barricade for visitors so they are properly checked in. Also at Dakota, the bond would help fund some road improvements so students driving in can move through the entrance and parking lot faster and not be stuck on the Macomb Township roads in traffic for as long.

The bond would also address some of the same issues that were identified as part of the May 2017 bond proposal, including parking lots and facility upgrades. There are also technology upgrades included.

Roberts said if the bond moves forward, the district will take more time to help the community understand why the improvements are needed and how they can make the schools more secure.

“We really think what is in this bond would make the schools stronger and better for the community,” Roberts said. “We think what we are presenting is a real reasonable package for our community and think we will ultimately present to the community a package they will support.”

In May of last year, 58.6 percent of the 14,000 district voters voted against the bond proposal. The proposal would have increased property taxes by 0.5 mills, from 8.64 mills to 9.16 mills, and had owners of a $200,000 home paying less than $1 per week, or $50 a year, in additional taxes for 25 years.

The exact millage increase for a new bond has not been finalized.

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet, R-Macomb Township, helped launch a campaign against the school bond last year. Drolet is chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance.

Drolet said he does not know the specifics of the new bond or how the district would use the money, but his concerns from 18 months ago are still valid.

“The district should not be looking for ways to put taxpayers even deeper in debt,” Drolet said. “We need to see what Chippewa is planning to do with the money, but given Chippewa’s long history of fiscal mismanagement, I am skeptical.”

The Board of Education’s Aug. 13 meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the administration building, 19120 Cass Ave., in Clinton Township.