Van Dyke Public Schools sinking fund passes

New faces for Warren Woods, Center Line school boards

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 7, 2018

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WARREN/CENTER LINE/STERLING HEIGHTS — Updated security measures are in store for all the school buildings — among other projects — in Van Dyke Public Schools.

During the Nov. 6 general election, the district’s 1-mill, 10-year sinking fund for district improvements passed. According to the unofficial results from the Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office, there were 3,429 votes in favor of the millage and 1,844 against it.

The sinking fund will generate approximately $354,000 in revenue per year for the next 10 years to fund safety and security needs, building and site repairs and enhancements, and technology upgrades.

“We’re grateful and thrilled the sinking fund passed,” VDPS Superintendent Piper Bognar said. “Many people worked hard to get the word out. We’re looking forward to keeping our district safe and secure with the investment our community has made.”

Bognar said the district will receive its first funds from the sinking fund in the summer of 2019. One project next summer will be updating security systems at each school building. The new security measures will include securing the vestibules with new camera and audio equipment that includes a method to check the identification of every visitor.

Bognar said other projects will include playground updates, parking lot enhancements and site repairs over the course of the sinking fund. A sinking fund is a limited property tax for funding building maintenance and infrastructure projects. Taxes are levied each year. Annual audits are completed to confirm compliance with the Michigan Department of Treasury guidelines. A sinking fund cannot be used for employee salaries, preventive maintenance or general operating costs.

Under the VDPS sinking fund, the tax rate will increase by 1 mill, or $1 for every $1,000 in taxable value per home. For example, a person with a home with a market value of $50,000 that has a taxable value of $25,000 will pay $25 per year for 10 years under the sinking fund.

In the district’s Board of Education race, incumbents David Cowlbeck, Charlene Johnson-El and Mark Kedzior ran unopposed for the three open six-year terms. According to the Clerk’s Office, Johnson-El received 3,032 votes, Cowlbeck received 2,585 votes and Kedzior received 2,257 votes.

School board recap
Voters also went to the polls Nov. 6 to vote in local school board elections. Many, but not all,  of the new board seats begin Jan. 1, 2019.

A newcomer joined two incumbents as the top vote-getters in the Warren Woods Public Schools Board of Education race. Five candidates, including three incumbents, ran for the three six-year terms. Incumbents Kay Walsh and Michael Schulte were re-elected to the board, with challenger Scott Hiller elected for the first time.

Walsh was the top vote-getter with 3,937 votes, Schulte received 3,818 votes, and Hiller garnered 2,967 votes. They bested Mitchell Bonga, who received 2,299 votes, and incumbent Donald Marx, who finished with 2,066 votes.

Hiller was encouraged to run for school board after speaking with fellow parents.

“It was clear to me that the next generation of families felt like they were not represented fully,” he said in an email. “With my history as an alumni, a former employee and lifelong member of the community, I felt that I could best serve to be that new voice. I would like to thank the voters. Their words of encouragement and support pushed me to keep working hard to finish the race.”

For one partial term ending Dec. 31, 2020, on the Center Line Public Schools Board of Education, Wendy Watters defeated Daniel Taylor. Watters received 3,446 votes, while Taylor received 2,093 votes. In the district’s uncontested race for two six-year terms, Shelley Harenski received 4,506 votes and Henry Newnan received 3,593 votes.

Watters, who has a fifth-grade student at Roose Elementary and a ninth-grade student at Center Line High School, has been an active parent for several years, serving on the parent teacher committees at Roose and at Wolfe Middle School.

“Parents know me. They trust me to be a voice for their kids,” Watters said. “What can we do to make our public schools stand out?”

As a board member, Watters’ goals include bringing staff, administrators, students and families together to create a strong community with growth in education. She also will prioritize fiscal accountability by reviewing budgets and overseeing the district’s $53.95 million bond issue that passed last May.

Watters said she is encouraged by the leadership of the district’s administrators and likes the idea of the academies at CLHS. The academies — designed to prepare students for college and careers after high school — give students the opportunity to learn in the context of related career fields and possibly earn career certifications.

In Fitzgerald Public Schools, incumbents Judy Furgal and Julia Yokel were re-elected to two six-year terms with 2,639 and 2,268 votes, respectively, defeating challenger Sadia Jiban, who garnered 1,375 votes.

Current FPS board member Anne Covert ran unopposed for a partial term that ends Dec. 31, 2022, receiving 3,725 votes.

Fitzgerald also had another school board race for one partial term ending Dec. 31, 2020, in which no one had filed to run. According to FPS officials, if there is no one to fill the open position, the board will appoint someone. At press time, the process and time frame to find candidates had not yet been determined.

In Warren Consolidated Schools, incumbents Leah Berdy and Brian White ran unopposed for two six-year terms, garnering 22,670 and 22,048 votes, respectively, while Carl Weckerle ran unopposed for one partial term ending Dec. 31, 2020, receiving 25,827 votes.  

In the Macomb Community College Board of Trustees race, five candidates ran for two six-year terms. Roseanne DiMaria was re-elected to the board with 126,547 votes, while Joan Flynn was elected with 103,370 votes, defeating Eugene F. Groesbeck, who received 75,600 votes,  Garry Watts with 60,489 votes, and Jonathan Brockway with 45,014 votes.