March 10, 2020 Bond Information

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many residents who reached out by email, phone, face to face conversations or by taking one of the twenty facilities tours offered in January and February to learn more about the district’s latest bond proposal to improve our facilities.

I truly appreciate the effort put forth by community members to better understand the proposed plan and the tax implications.  I also appreciate the feedback provided by residents during these interactions.

In the process of these conversations, several key questions were asked that I would like to respond to.

  • How much of the proposed scope of work is dedicated to infrastructure?
    • Over 70% of the proposed project costs are dedicated to renovation of existing spaces and building wide systems such as HVAC, electrical, roofing, lighting, and plumbing.
    • Fifty percent of the proposed work at the middle school and high school is for building wide systems such as heating and cooling, fire suppression, roofing, lighting, electrical, plumbing and site work.
    • At Douglas Elementary, 38% of the proposed work is for building wide systems, fire suppression and sitework including an improved parent loop and parking.
  • What other improvements to the district’s facilities are proposed?
    • At the middle school and high school, 35% of the proposed bond dollars would be dedicated to renovating the oldest classrooms, the science labs, technology lab, media center and cafeteria.
    • A new secure entrance/office and new band room is proposed on the south side of the existing middle school and high school.  This would account for the remaining 15% of the proposed funds for the middle school high school facility.
    • At Douglas Elementary 46% of the proposed scope of work would renovate the twelve lower elementary classrooms built in 1957, and would renovate the media center, science room, art room and music room.
    • A new secure entrance and office space would also be constructed.
  • Why did the district decide to renovate the existing facilities instead of building all new?
    • Residents have made significant investments to the schools over the past twenty years including a middle school wing, gymatorium, high school art room, elementary classrooms and athletic stadium.
    • The proposed cost of building all new facilities is over $90,000,000.
    • Results of the EPIC/MRA community survey showed little support for building all new facilities.
  • Isn’t the student population declining?
    • The latest five-year pupil projections completed for the Application for Preliminary Qualification of Bonds submitted to the Michigan Department of Treasury predicted a stable student population for the next five years.
    • While the state of Michigan has seen a considerable decline in students over the past ten years, the number of students attending Saugatuck Public Schools has remained stable.
  • If the bond passes, how will my taxes be affected?
    • If approved, the proposed total debt tax rate of 3.45 mills would still be below the 3.59 mills debt tax rate the school district levied before July 1, 2018.  The debt tax rate has decreased over the past two years from 3.59 mills to 1.85 mills.
    • If approved by voters, it is projected that the debt tax rate would increase by approximately 1.60 mills over the current debt tax rate. This equals approximately an additional $6.67 per month for every $100,000 of home market value.
  • How do Saugatuck Public School’s millage rates compare to other area districts?
    • Saugatuck Public Schools has the lowest debt tax rate and total school tax rate in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and would continue to have the lowest debt tax rate and total school tax rate in the OAISD if this proposal is approved.
  • What is the impact of school of choice legislation which began in 1996-97, on the district’s operating budget? 
    • In 2018-19, 290 students chose to attend Saugatuck Public Schools rather than their home district, while 25 resident students chose to attend a charter school and 74 students chose to attend another local school district.  These numbers do not reflect students who are homeschooled or choose to attend a private school.
    • When accounting for students entering and exiting, one in four SPS students attend via choice.
    • The net impact on the 2018-19 budget was an additional $1.4 million in funding for Saugatuck Public Schools.
    • As tax dollars are distributed to local districts on a per pupil basis, having more students enrolled keeps more local tax dollars in the community.
  • Is the district building more classrooms for additional school of choice students?
    • No, no additional regular classrooms are included in the current bond proposal.  The district plans to run as efficiently as possible as a three-section district in classrooms that are currently in place.

Please visit our bond information page for more detailed information,