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Sinking fund millage up for vote on Ferndale Schools

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 20, 2016

FERNDALE — The Aug. 2 primary election will feature several issues on the ballot for the city of Ferndale, with a big one concerning the Ferndale Public Schools.

The vote for Ferndale Schools, if passed, would levy “1.30 mills ($1.30 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) to create a sinking fund for the construction or repair of school buildings, the improvement and development of sites and any other purpose permitted by law, by increasing the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in the School District for a period of fifteen (15) years, being the years 2016 to 2030,” according to the proposal.

The 1.3 mills proposed would raise approximately $843,000 in the first year it’s active.

Superintendent Blake Prewitt said he’s been going around to different communities to explain why the sinking fund is needed for the schools, and from what he’s heard, the response has been positive.

“I haven’t been anywhere where they have not been supportive,” he said. “It’s just more of helping people understand why we need to do it — what’s the benefit to the students of the district and to the community.”

“It’s just people want to make sure that the school district’s being good stewards of its finances and making sure we’re doing what’s best for kids. And our community is very supportive of our kids,” he said.

Oak Park resident Renee Crumrine, who recently served as president of the Ferndale Middle and High School PTSA, said she is for the sinking fund, although she is not thrilled to be paying for another millage.

“I would like my children to go to school with a roof not leaking, where there’s not plumbing issues,” she said. “I don’t want my kids to go to a place that’s falling apart. So yeah, absolutely (for it). These things need to be fixed and addressed.”

“I have kids there, but I’m one person out of the whole city of Ferndale, part of Oak Park and part of Hazel Park voting on this,” she said.
The money from the sinking fund would go toward maintenance of the school buildings and grounds in the district.

“By law, it has to go towards the maintenance repair of buildings,” Prewitt said. “We’ve done a full assessment of all our buildings, and we know we have, over the next 10 years, at least $10,000-$13,000 in just repairs and upkeep. So it is roofs, boilers, grounds, fencing and the athletic fields, locker rooms, classroom carpet, electrical upgrades.

“It’s just all those items that you need to continuously keep up on,” he said.

Prewitt said that if the sinking fund passes, they’ll begin to plan which schools to fix up first, and work would begin next summer at the earliest.

“Basically, by doing (the vote) in August, the funds will be there for next summer,” he said. “So I can do projects in the buildings next summer. If we would’ve waited until November or later to do this, we wouldn’t have been able to do projects next summer.

“The first thing we’ll look at is the immediate need of the roofing,” he said. “We have some active leaks. As opposed to just paying for repairs, do we look at a section of the roof?”

Crumrine said she feels the school administration has done good things for the district and has had everybody’s best interest at heart, whether everybody agrees with her or not.

“I want my kids to be in a safe place,” she said. “I want them to have heat in the wintertime. I want them to have, you know, not leaky roofs. I just want them to be in a safe place. So if that’s what it takes, $7 a month out of my money to do that, that seems like kind of a small amount.”