2015-02-15 / Front Page

Residents to weigh-in Feb. 24 on $5.6 million STC schools bond issue

By Mandilee Loomis
Staff Reporter

ST. CHARLES – Area residents within the St. Charles Community Schools district will be weighing in on a $5.6 million bond issue for school improvements during a special election on Tuesday, Feb. 24. The 1.5 mill increase would cost the average homeowner ($100,000 home) approximately $75 annually. The project’s scope would give the district an overall update in many avenues including safety, security, technology, building and grounds improvements and athletics.

The official ballot language is as follows:

“Shall St. Charles Community Schools, Saginaw County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Five Million Six Hundred Forty-Five Thousand Dollars ($5,645,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefore, for the purpose of: erecting, furnishing, and equipping an addition to the high school; remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping school buildings and facilities; acquiring and installing instructional technology in school buildings; purchasing school buses; and preparing, developing, improving, and equipping playgrounds, athletic fields, and sites?”

The following is for informational purposes only:

The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2015, under current law, is 1.46 mills ($1.46 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty (20) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 2.11 mills ($2.11 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.”)

The 1.5 mill levy would increase the district’s total millage debt rate to 4.5-mills – though St. Charles Community Schools Superintendent Michael Decker has explained that that amount would still be below average in regard to debt millages throughout the county.

Currently (with the 3-mill levy) the district has the second to lowest total debt millage in Saginaw County (out of 12 districts.)

A general overview of the proposal’s projects include: Safety/Security: new security cameras in the hallway and at the elementary and middle schools where needed; Technology: assessing the needs for wireless expansion in all the buildings, and the addition of wireless tables for all students, as well as updates to other technological pieces throughout the classroom (projectors, mobile carts, document cameras, etc.) For the 21st Century Learner piece, the proposal would help support the district’s current Project Based Learning and Leader in Me initiatives.

The proposal would add an additional performance gym at the district, new bleachers inside the current middle school gym, the addition of a new personal fitness lab, four new batting cages, and the building of a community center.

The new community center would allow for community education and adult athletic leagues, while allowing the public to have access to the gymnasiums and the personal fitness lab.

Other improvements include the addition of additional restroom near the athletic field, drainage improvements to the athletic complex, and a new septic field near the bathrooms at the concession stand. Other building/grounds improvements may include improvements to and/or adding new windows and doors, building entrance upgrades at the high school and elementary schools, the possible expansion of the parking lot, and additional bus purchases. Additional projects include a digital sign at the school entrance, music lockers, and a new stage/drama curtain.

A Community Counts Committee, a probond committee, was also formed months ago and consists of local residents whose intent is to provide and distribute information about the proposal and gather support from the community. Several meetings have been slated including a bond information meeting on Feb. 4 during which Decker gave an informational presentation about the proposal and then answered an array of questions from audience members. Over 50 area residents turned out to that meeting. Decker also gave a presentation during the last regular St. Charles Village Council meeting on Feb. 11.

The school district’s radius includes the Village of St. Charles and part of St. Charles Township, as well as portions of Brant, Fremont, Marion, and Swan Creek townships.

School district residents can cast their votes in their regular voting precincts:

For Village of St. Charles and township voters: Precinct 01 – St. Charles Township Hall, 1003 N. Saginaw St., St. Charles; and Precinct 02 – St. Charles Village Hall, 110 W. Spruce St., St. Charles; for Brant and Marion Township voters: Brant Township Hall, 11012 S. Hemlock Rd., Brant; Fremont Township voters: 5980 S. Hemlock Rd., Hemlock; and Swan Creek Township voters: 11415 Lakefield Rd., St. Charles. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

More information about the proposal can be found on the district’s website www.stccs.org under the “Bond Proposal Information” tab located in the Quick Links.

The proposal is slated to be the only item on the February ballot.

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