Holly Area Schools asks for $97-million bond renewal | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

 During a special meeting Monday, Jan. 31, the Holly Board of Education voted 6-0 to place a bond renewal on the May 3 election ballot. Trustee Teri Weisdorfer was absent from the meeting due to a scheduling conflict. 

 The resolution states: “In the opinion of this Board, it is necessary and expedient to ask voters whether to approve a bond project consisting of erecting, furnishing, and equipping a new middle school building, a new construction trades building, and a new athletic restroom/concession/storage building; remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping school facilities; acquiring and installing instructional technology and instructional technology equipment for school facilities; and remodeling, preparing, developing, improving, and equipping playgrounds, athletic fields, athletic facilities, and sites.

 “The Board estimates the necessary cost of the project to be $97,058,995. It will be necessary for the school district to borrow $97 million and issue the bonds of the district therefor, the remaining funds to be derived from the investment of the bond proceeds.”

 On May 3, residents in the Holly Area Schools district will vote on a Holly Area Schools bond proposal. If approved, this bond proposal would provide $97 million for district-wide improvements, with no tax rate increase to property owners. This bond proposal was developed and prioritized as Phase 2 of the Master Plan for district facilities. Buildings, sites, and educational programs were assessed to determine and prioritize a list of facility needs throughout the district.

 According to the Holly Area Schools bond proposal fact sheet, available at hask12.org, the bond proposal addresses the highest priority projects and focuses on three key areas — a new middle school, learning environments and building and site improvements.

 Superintendent Scott Roper addressed the Board about the bond renewal. He said after a successful bond election, bond projects will typically go through a design phase, state approval phase, bidding phase, site work phase, and construction phase. A large project, such as the replacement of a septic system, would take several months to complete.  For new construction, such as the new proposed middle school, the design phase portion alone could take at least 12 months before moving into state approval, bidding, site work, and construction. 

 “It is important to keep in mind that the timeline for bond project site work and construction cannot disrupt the students’ schedule and therefore must be coordinated with the district’s calendar,” Roper said.

 Roper said that moving the current bond election to August 2022 or November 2022 would significantly upset the timing of the proposed bond projects. As noted above regarding bond project phases, this move would delay the start of construction for several projects including the construction of the new middle school. The opening of the proposed new middle school would be delayed up to a year, from the Fall of 2025 to the Fall of 2026, by moving the proposed election to August 2022 or November 2022.  

 “Based on current and historic trends regarding construction costs, it would likely be more expensive to our taxpayers (assuming a successful bond election that is approved by the voters) to postpone the election to August 2022 or November 2022, as the delayed bond election would impact the bond construction timeline,” Roper said. “The impact of delaying the bond construction timeline would likely result in increased construction costs due to inflation. This would include increased labor and material costs.  As a result, the total scope of the bond would likely need to be reduced.

 “Further, by postponing the bond, the school district would extend the financial burden on the general fund to pay the costs of facility repairs and improvements that would be addressed by bond projects as replacements or upgrades. For example, the longer the wait, the higher chance of failure of the septic systems at Davisburg Elementary and Rose Pioneer Elementary. The septic system at Rose Pioneer Elementary is original to the site and over 25 years old. The septic system at Davisburg Elementary is over 46 years old.  These are the only two building sites in the district that operate on a sophisticated septic system.

 “Without bonds in place from a successful election, the district expects that it will need to spend approximately $1.5 million from the general fund to design and replace both septic systems, which would divert funds from student programs and other operating costs. The delay of putting improvements into service would extend the general fund’s financial burden. These added general fund expenses are projected to exceed the cost of conducting a May 2022 bond election.”

Local clerks share opinions of election date

 Prior to the school board voting to place the non-homestead renewal on the May ballot, several area clerks spoke during public comment time to question the board as to why they wouldn’t place the item on the August or November ballot to save taxpayer money.

 Rose Township Clerk Debbie Miller told the school board that a special election in May in Rose Township would cost $11,652 and would be paid for by Holly schools.

 Springfield Township Clerk Sean Miller (no relation to Debbie Miller) told the Board that it would cost Springfield Township $9,311 to hold the special election in May.

 Holly Township Clerk Karin Winchester asked that the Board place the item on the August ballot to save money and to have a transparent discussion.

 Rose Township Deputy Clerk Renee Kraft spoke on behalf of the Groveland Township clerk saying August would result in higher voter turnout and that a May election would cost Groveland Township approximately $7,000.

*No photo available for Secretary, Jennifer Young.

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