The Fitzgerald Public Schools’ $46.7 million bond proposal is on the May 7 ballot. If it passes, it will include building enhancements throughout the district, including Fitzgerald High School.

The Fitzgerald Public Schools’ $46.7 million bond proposal is on the May 7 ballot. If it passes, it will include building enhancements throughout the district, including Fitzgerald High School.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Fitzgerald bond issue to appear on May 7 ballot

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 26, 2019

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WARREN — Taxpayers in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district will have the opportunity to vote on a bond proposal May 7.

At the Feb. 11 FPS Board of Education meeting, the school board voted 7-0 to place a $46.7 million bond proposal on the May 7 election ballot that, if passed, would generate money from the district’s taxpayers to fund projects throughout the district.

A bond issue is a state-approved funding process for a group of planned projects. When voters approve a bond proposal, the school district sells bonds in the authorized amount and uses the proceeds of the sale to pay for those projects. If the FPS bond issue passes, funding would provide improvements in both security features and energy efficiency, along with remodeled classrooms and updated technology.

According to school officials, the average age of a Fitzgerald building is 54 years. The bond is designed to address safety concerns that are the same as those facing other school districts across the nation, district Superintendent Laurie Fournier said.  

“Simply, we have reached the point where it’s time to upgrade, renovate and replace buses so our schools are up to date and in good repair,” Fournier stated in an email. “The bond will help assure that Fitzgerald students are receiving a quality education (so) that Fitzgerald graduates are prepared for the future. A successful bond will help continue to make the Fitzgerald district a desirable location for families.”

If the initiative is approved by voters, the current tax rate is projected to increase by 2.9 mills and, according to school officials, would cost the average Fitzgerald taxpayer an additional $6 per month. The FPS bond initiative is for 25 years.

The bond issue, if passed, would enhance safety and security by remodeling and equipping school buildings, playgrounds and other facilities; improve energy efficiency with roofing, lighting and mechanical system replacements; update and remodel classrooms and school facilities, including the Chatterton Middle School planetarium; upgrade the technology and technology infrastructure; and improve deteriorated masonry and parking lots. Bond funds also would be used to replace school buses as they wear out.

The proposed projects include work at the Schofield Early Childhood Center, Mound Park and Westview elementary schools, Chatterton Middle School, Fitzgerald High School, the Fitzgerald Automotive & Technical Career Institute, the Neigebaur building and the transportation building.    

According to the district’s website, fitz.k12.mi.us, if voters approve the bond proposal, bonds would be sold in three series: series No. 1, $20,860,700 in 2019; series No. 2, $19,658,200 in 2022; and series No. 3, $6,381,700 in 2025. Fournier feels strongly that the bond issue will pass.

“I am confident that residents in the Fitzgerald district like their schools, want what is best for their community and will support this bond,” she said.   

One resident, however, who contacted the Warren Weekly, is not in favor of the bond proposal. While Warren resident Greg Donahoe said he loves his neighborhood and thinks “the Fitzgerald district does its best to serve students well,” he said he will be voting “no” on the bond issue. One reason is because he said nearly half of the current student population resides outside the district due to Schools of Choice, which does not bring in revenue to the district. He also feels that school districts in southwest and south central Macomb County need to merge.

According to Fournier, 19.7% of the FPS student population is made up of Schools of Choice students.

“We have 322 students attending Fitzgerald schools from outside of Macomb County. We have 174 students attending Fitzgerald schools that live in Macomb County,” she said. “SOC is a fact of life for the state of Michigan. We, along with other districts, wouldn’t be able to offer the number of programs that we have for students if we didn’t offer SOC. Our bond proposal is not about SOC. We have been focused on what our community can do for their schools, facilities, learning environments and programs for students.”

Donahoe also feels that all of the money is not needed now because the bonds would only be sold in three parts. He feels the requested amount of $46.7 million is heavily padded to avoid having to come to the voters again.

“We won’t sell the bonds until we need the revenue. It is factual information that we are selling the bonds in three series,” Fournier said. “Nothing is heavily padded. Our project lists are real and were created based on a full district facility assessment that was completed. We also had community forums and received feedback from parents, staff and students. We are doing what has been asked over the past few years from our community.

“The passing of the bond will help assure that all buildings (and) facilities are safe, secure, up to date and in good repair; assure that Fitzgerald’s educational programs and facilities remain competitive with other school districts; assure that the school bus fleet is up to date and safe; and reflect positively on homeowner property values and protect the community’s investment in its school district,” Fournier said.

The voting polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 7.

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