Saugatuck Public Schools May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal

Looking to the future of Saugatuck Public Schools, the Board of Education is asking the community to consider a new bond proposal at the May 7, 2019 election.

The Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to ask voters to consider the proposal on the upcoming election ballot. If approved by voters, it would generate $39,940,000 for renovations to Saugatuck Public Schools.

What is the focus of the bond proposal?
The proposal focuses on renovating and refreshing schools, and reimagining learning environments.

If approved, the bond proposal would provide renovations to aging building systems such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and roof systems. Infrastructure renovations would include new LED lighting throughout the buildings, heating and cooling systems, fire suppression, and safety and ADA-accessibility improvements.

The bond proposal would refresh other portions of our buildings by updating aging finishes such as flooring, cabinetry, paint, and furniture as needed.

The bond proposal would reimagine the district’s learning environments by creating up-to-date classrooms and collaborative spaces for students, staff and community members. Updates would include transforming outdated media centers into modern learning commons, enlarging lower elementary classrooms, and constructing a new Middle School /High School music and band suite to support the growing program.

Educational design and instructional methods have evolved over the decades, but most of the district’s learning environments have not. Classrooms have not seen major renovations since they were originally built, with Douglas Elementary School originally constructed over 62 years ago and the High School over 45 years ago. Due to the age of these original buildings, important infrastructure has exceeded their expected lifecycles. Over the years the district has made additions to the schools – the Middle School addition to the High School nearly 20 years ago, and the addition to Douglas Elementary nearly 10 years ago. While those additions added classrooms to the schools, the original infrastructure and original classrooms were not updated.

Modern learning environments support more collaborative and interactive teaching and learning styles that would better prepare our students for their future education and work environments. District programming has been enhanced but the current buildings limit instruction and learning. These new collaborative spaces would also support our community's need for meeting spaces.

What is the taxpayer impact?
If the bond proposal is approved by voters, the millage rate is expected to increase by approximately 1.36 mills over the 2018 debt tax rate. This equals approximately an additional $5.67 per month for every $100,000 market value home.  A tax calculator will be available on the district website for taxpayers to calculate the estimated impact of the bond proposal. Saugatuck Public Schools currently levies the lowest debt tax rate in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and neighboring districts. If the proposal is approved by voters, Saugatuck Public Schools would still remain as one of the lowest debt tax rates in the area.

What has changed since the previous bond proposal in 2018?
In May 2018, over 1,700 voters turned out on Election Day to vote on the Saugatuck Public Schools bond proposal. Although the proposal was not approved by voters, the district thanks the community for the valuable feedback received following the election. The Facilities Committee and Board of Education carefully reviewed input and feedback to develop a smaller proposal. Through conversations, meetings, and a post-bond survey, several adjustments to the bond proposal were made:

  • Reduced the total project scope of the bond by 21%, from $50.7M to $39.94M
  • Reduced the net impact to taxpayers from a proposed debt levy of 4.76 mills in 2018 to a proposed debt levy of 4.16 mills in 2019
  • Reduced the square footage of the proposed projects by eliminating the second story at the Middle School / High School
  • Reallocated proposed new square footage at Douglas Elementary School into the existing learning environments
  • Scaled back major renovations to each building

Where can I find additional information?
Additional information will be provided at community forums. Forums are scheduled:

  • Thursday, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. at Douglas Elementary School
  • Wednesday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Saugatuck Middle School / High School
  • Tuesday, March 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Saugatuck Middle School / High School

More information will be made available as the election draws nearer. If you have further questions, contact Dr. Tim Travis, Superintendent, by email or by phone at (269)857-1444.

What is a bond proposal and how can funds from a bond be spent?
A bond proposal is how a public school district asks its community for authorization to borrow money for capital expenditures by selling bonds. Voter-approved bond funds can be spent on new construction, additions, remodeling, site improvements, athletic facilities, playgrounds, buses, furnishings, equipment, and technology. Funds raised through the sale of bonds cannot be used on operational expenses such as employee salaries and benefits, school supplies, and textbooks. Bond funds must be kept separate from operating funds and must be audited by an independent auditing firm.

Ballot Language:
Shall Saugatuck Public Schools, Allegan County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Thirty-Nine Million Nine Hundred Forty Thousand Dollars ($39,940,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or more series, for the purpose of:
erecting, furnishing and equipping additions to school buildings; partially remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping school buildings; acquiring, installing and equipping school buildings with instructional technology; purchasing school buses; preparing, developing, improving and equipping athletic fields, athletic facilities, and playgrounds; and acquiring, developing and improving sites?

The following is for informational purposes only:
The estimated net increase in millage in 2019, over the prior year's levy, is 1.36 mills ($1.36 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2019 is 2.25 mills ($2.25 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The maximum number of years the bonds of any series may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty-seven (27) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 2.54 mills ($2.54 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

(Pursuant to State law, expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.)