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 Farmington voters took to the polls to decide on a school bond March 10.

Farmington voters took to the polls to decide on a school bond March 10.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Residents pass Farmington Public Schools’ $98 million bond

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published March 11, 2020

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS/WEST BLOOMFIELD — Voters in Farmington, Farmington Hills and part of West Bloomfield cast their ballots and decided March 10 to pass Farmington Public Schools’ $98 million bond proposal

According to Oakland County Election Division unofficial results, a total of 28,056 ballots were cast for the bond  — roughly 6,000 more voters than the district’s $131.5 million 2015 bond proposal. A majority of voters, 19,412 or 69.19%, supported the bond, while 8,644, or 30.81%, voted against the referendum. 

Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Robert Herrera said the district and Board of Education are “grateful and appreciative” of the support shown by the community. 

“That’s going to allow us to move forward with more focus on our teaching and learning, while maintaining our infrastructure needs. It’s going to allow us to move at a much faster pace and with a lot more focus over the next three to five years,” he said, adding that the advocacy of several community groups, PTA councils and other residents played a role in the final outcome. 

“They were actively involved in supporting (the bond), not just saying, ‘I’m a yes supporter,’ but they were out here really taking it upon themselves to make sure folks received information and giving us advice and direction on areas they believed the community didn’t understand, so we could make sure we were messaging that correctly. … That was really the key, I think, to moving this along as well.” 

Herrera said even those people who voted against the proposal have still been heard by the district. Throughout campaigning for the bond, Herrera heard from all segments of the community, and he said he has plans to address concerns that he heard raised

The $98 million bond will carry a 0.9 debt millage rate during its first year, which when coupled with the preexisting millage rate from 2015, will equal 3.2 mills total. Residents will see a reduction of 0.1 debt mills from the previous 3.3 debt mills they are paying currently. If the bond hadn’t passed, residents’ debt millage rate would have dropped to roughly 2.3. 

Of the $98 million, $72.5 million will be used for infrastructure needs, like building infrastructure, parking lots, playgrounds, group instructional spaces, and athletic surfaces; $20 million will fund technology improvements, such as computers, audio-visual systems, and fiber optic cabling; and $5.5 million will fund bus replacements.

With the bond secured, the district will now also be able to outfit all of its elementary schools with video surveillance systems. The 2015 bond allowed the district to make those upgrades at the middle and high schools only.

A resident with a home that has a market value of $150,000 will pay $67.50 in additional taxes annually, and a resident with a home that has a market value of $250,000 will pay $112.50 annually. The bond will be sold in two series, in 2020 and 2023, each for 20 years.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Jennifer Kaminski told The Farmington Press in January that with approximately $91 million, including interest, still due on the 2015 bond issuance and $73 million, including interest, on the 2018 bond issuance, residents will begin paying for the 2020 bond proposal alongside these totals.

Herrera isn’t exactly sure when the first series will be sold, though he said it's not likely to happen for a couple months. 

“I don’t know what the timelines are for this. We need to go through a process to determine whether we sell these bonds competitively or go through an underwriter for them,” he said. “We’ll have to work the bond counsel to talk about all the steps to selling the bond. There’s some key decisions we’ll have to make … and then once the bonds are sold we’ll be bringing back in (Plante Moran) and talk about setting priorities for the projects that need to be addressed.” 

The $6 million the district had left over from the 2015 bond has now begun to make its way to Board of Education meetings March 10 and at upcoming meetings to allocate that money to key infrastructure projects to round out the final 2015 bond projects. 

Of that $6 million, $1.1 million is planned for upgrading technology, and student and teacher devices; $1.1 million will be allocated toward purchasing 10 new buses; $800,000 is planned for central office upgrades to the parking lot, security, flooring and roofing; and the additional $3.5 million will help replace other infrastructure needs, like boilers and chillers in the district. 

With the worry of funding resolved and an educational reform plan set to take place in the upcoming two years, Herrera said the district is now in a position to move forward once again. 

“We’ll be able to maintain our current level of support and resources in our teaching and learning environments without pulling those out for these infrastructure needs. … That was certainly going to be a challenge,” he said. “We’re positioned very well now to really be able to accomplish and move the district forward with this gift from the community. The swing between where we would have been and where we are now — this is huge.” 

For more information on the school bond, visit farmington.k12.mi.us/bond2020

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