School bond, sinking fund proposals on ballots in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 4, 2019

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Voters in both the South Lake Schools and Lakeview Public Schools districts will be asked to consider proposals to pay for technology, building upgrades, renovations and more in the Nov. 5 general election.

The South Lake Schools Board of Education approved language to put a 10-year, 1-mill sinking fund before voters at its Aug. 12 meeting. A sinking fund enables school districts to improve and repair facilities, maintain safe and secure buildings, and keep technology up to date, said South Lake Superintendent Ted Von Hiltmayer.

The difference between a sinking fund and a bond issue, he said, is that a sinking fund can be used for general maintenance, such as painting rooms and other minor renovations that are needed at South Lake Middle School, while a bond issue cannot be used for general maintenance.

Von Hiltmayer said that the district would also be using the money to continue with its 1-to-1 initiative to purchase iPads for students in the district and to continue purchasing the technology as older models become obsolete.

A 1-mill levy would bring in about $500,000 per year, based on current property taxes, and could expect to generate about $5 million over the 10-year period that it is levied.

“The good thing of this is, it’s not going to cost anybody anything more than what they’re paying,” Von Hiltmayer said.

Property owners in South Lake’s district currently pay 7 mills on a former bond issue. If the sinking fund is approved, the previous bond funds would be levied at 6 mills while the sinking fund would be levied at 1 mill, for a total that is still 7 mills.

“It’s not an increase for anyone,” Von Hiltmayer said.

In addition to the renovations at South Lake Middle School, the purchase of additional iPads and the replacement of old ones, the district also needs to replace some heating and cooling systems.

“So far, it’s been received positively. I think it’s due to the fact (that) we’re not asking for more than what they’re currently paying,” Von Hiltmayer said.

The situation is similar in Lakeview Public Schools, where the district is asking voters to support a $54 million bond proposal that would not increase the amount that taxpayers currently pay.

The proposed bond would address safety and security concerns, including cameras and monitoring systems, classroom door emergency locks, emergency alert systems, and new layouts for many of the district’s parking lots and driveways to address traffic-flow problems and get parents’ vehicles off nearby streets. It would also update computers for staff and students, install new cabling and wireless infrastructure, as well as replace roofs, heating and cooling systems, windows and lighting to improve efficiency.

“Who would have guessed in 2008 that every kid and every staff member would be hooking up to our Wi-Fi system?” said Lakeview Superintendent Karl Paulson. “The site work, the entrances, that’s all hooked to a campus security system — where cars can drive and where they cannot drive, what doors will open for public access.”

He said that the elementary schools haven’t had major site work done in 50 years.

At all schools in Lakeview, new classrooms would be added to accommodate multipurpose teaching spaces. There would also be reconfigurations to elementary school offices to improve security, making it so that office staff could see who is entering a building before they approach the door. New turf, stadium bleachers and press box facilities would be installed at the high school, and new musical instruments would be purchased for grades five through 12.

“Everywhere that I have been and anyone that I have spoken to have had a positive outlook about the bond option,” Paulson said. “People are surprised at the thoughtfulness that we’ve put into the project, and that’s brought on a more positive response.”

More specifics on the bond proposal are available at lakeview publicschools.org.

“We have been and will continue to be very transparent about all the district’s activity and finances,” Paulson said.

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