By David Fleet
Goodrich-On Wednesday night, the school district hosted the first of several community forums at the district’s community room, 8029 Gale Road, to discuss a proposed school bond extension.
Representatives from Pontiac-based Auch Construction and architecture/engineering Integrated Design Solutions, school administrators along with community members attended the meeting as plans for a $20 million bond extension that will extend the current debt out to about 2030. There will be no new taxes. School administrators plan on making a proposal for the bond to the Michigan treasury in December. A May 5, 2020 vote is expected.
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.
Following an extensive facilities and condition needs assessment study of school district buildings last summer a total of $45.9 million in upgrades was found. Of that, $26.5 million or 57 percent were recognized as critical needs within the next 1-3 years.
“Just like at home,” said Wayne Wright, school district interim superintendent. “Things start breaking down after a period of time. They have looked at the biggest needs in the district and just like in your home there are immediate needs.”
Some the bond projects will include roofing, asphalt along with a new gymnasium at Oaktree Elementary School. The middle school and high school entrance off Gale Road, will have a new vestibules for security. The district from roofs, electrical and mechanical will be upgraded. Reid will have a new water well and roof. In addition, about $3 million is needed for technology will be included.
School administrators proposed a Goodrich Area Schools Master Plan that outlined a financial, building, technology and academic program development road map through 2032.
“Goodrich has a great name and great facilities,” said Wright. “We want to make sure we stay there. It’s very important that our children have great facilities because if aesthetics are right they learn better. It also helps with property values.”
Key in the plan are two $20 million bond proposals the first in 2020 and a second $20 million in 2025/2027. Also included in the master plan is a 1 mill, 10 year sinking fund for technology. In 2021 voters would be asked for a 1 mill increase in taxes that would generate about $500,000 per year. If approved, the sinking fund millage would cost taxpayers with a $200,000 home, about $200 per year. A third bond outlined in the master plan will be considered in 2030/2032, however no dollar amount was provided.
“The reason we are looking at a sinking fund in the second or third year, is we do technology through a bond issue, that money must be spent in about three years,” said Wright. “How long does technology last? Five, six, seven years? If we do a sinking fund, we can replace technology every year and have a plan set, so there is a revolving door.”
“A sinking fund is money that comes in every year,” he added. “Sinking fund money cannot be used for salaries, rather for major repairs, technology and security purposes.”
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.