By David Fleet
Goodrich- At 6:30 p.m., Nov. 20, the school board of trustees along with representatives from Pontiac-based Auch Construction and architecture/engineering Integrated Design Solutions will host a community forum, at the district’s community room, 8029 Gale Road, to discuss a proposed school bond extension.
Following an extensive facilities and condition assessment study of school district buildings last summer that total $45.9 million in upgrades, $26.5 million or 57 percent were recognized as critical within the next 1-3 years.
“We have pared the needs down to about a $20 million project,” said Wayne Wright, interim district superintendent. “We’ve looked at the needs of the district from roofs to electrical to mechanical. The (project) bond would not increase taxes rather extend the debt out until about 2030.”
A vote on May 2020 is considered.
Some the bond projects will include roofing, asphalt along with a new gymnasium at Oaktree Elementary School.
“Right now the gymnasium (at Oaktree) is also the lunch room,” said Wright. “Thus, it shuts down and they can’t have classes there for a period of time. With the new gymnasium in place additional room would be created for a makers space at Oaktree.”
Also, the middle school and high school entrance off Gale Road, will have a new vestibules for security.
“Both the middle school and Gale Road entrances will be upgraded so visitors will have to stop before entry,” he said.
Reid will have a new water well and roof. In addition, about $3 million is needed for technology will be included.
The district bond debt is currently at about $39,190,000. The last bond was February 2011 when school district voters approved a $15.4 million bond extension to be used for educational facilities, technology, athletics and energy upgrades.
Since that time the district has continually demonstrated positive increases in fund balance. According to the 2018-19 school district audit, the general fund balance is at 13 percent and since 2014 has increased that balance has improved from $1,336,529 to $2,561,433.
“The fund balance is the health of the district,” he said. We try to keep a 15 percent fund equity, that’s recommended by the Michigan Association of School Boards.”
Several factors can impact the fund balance, the difference between fund assets and liabilities reflected on the balance sheet.
“A lot depends on how your student count goes too,” he said.
Student count dipped slightly in 2018-19 to 2,133 down from 2,144 in the 2017-2018 school year.
“We’re comfortable with the current fund balance, and we’re not financially stressed. We’ve been watching our budget very closely.”
In both 2017 and 2018 the school district voted to refund bonds due to improved interest rates.
“It’s just like refinancing your home, the interest rates have gone down,” he said. “That’s where we’ve saved the taxpayers money. We continually watch these rates, and will take advantage of money saving opportunities.”
“The interest rates are low right now,” said Wright. “It’s a good time to borrow money. The bond interest rates are low now.”
The board of trustees had revenues budgeted of $20.22 million and actual was $20.14 million a variance of $76,000 under budget. Similarly, the board budgeted expenditures of $20.37 million and actual was $19.88 million a variance of $492,000 under budget.
The district will also consider a sinking fund in the next few years.
“We’d go for about a 1 mill sinking fund,” he said. “We could go up to 10 years on the sinking fund.”
One mill would generate about $500,000 each year that could be used for technology, security and repairs, he said.
The building and renovation project was first introduced on Oct. 15, 2018 when the district building and site committee consulted with the school district attorney to discuss the district’s facility needs.