By J.M. Boggs firstname.lastname@example.org
When Chelsea voters head to the ballot box in November, among the items they will decide upon will have far-reaching impacts on the future of Chelsea School District.
The district is seeking approval for a $81 million bond proposal with the money going to pay for district-wide improvements.
The bond, district officials point out, would not result in a tax increase for Chelsea homeowners.
Instead it would extend the 7 mills currently on tax bills. That rate works out to $700 a year for a home with a true cash value of $200,000, and a taxable value of $100,000.
Superintendent Julie Helber made a pitch for approval of the bond during a recent Chelsea City Council meeting.
The 7 mills, she said, would start to decrease, dipping below 7 as early as 2021. In 2025, the district’s 2009 bond will be paid off and the millage rate would fall to 4.53 as the lone bond payment is for the bond currently being requested.
She said securing bond money allows the school to protect its general fund, 87 percent of which goes to staff salary and benefits, from being used for needed repairs and upgrades.
Bond funds can be used, she said, for things such as repairs/maintenance, site improvements, technology, equipment and buses.
The money raised by the bond issue would “provide district-wide improvements to address identified and ongoing facility needs based on years of strategic planning, facility assessments, and community input,” a message released by the district stated.
The improvements, officials say would “create safe and modern schools, and address the aging facilities.” The department notes the average age of the district’s school buildings is 49 years old. The state of Michigan, the district notes, defines the useful life of a school building at 40 years.
“Many core infrastructure systems have outlived their expected life cycles. The District has continued to address preventative maintenance as much as possible; simply to the point where systems can no longer just be repaired but should be replaced,” the statement reads.
Work will include security improvements across all buildings, roof repair and replacement, HVAC works and ADA upgrades.
Plans are also for the money to be spent inside classrooms as well as on facilities.
“In addition, the District has not addressed the changing needs of our students inside of the classrooms with flexible learning environments that promote collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication,” the district states. “This bond will support modern learning environments for our students.”
In a video presentation Helber played during the city council meeting, several planned academic expenditures were listed, including:
The bond would be sold in three series, 2020, 2022 and 2025.
“What this will do is protect our district for the next 10 to 15 years,” Helber stated.