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PUBLIC NOTICE: SPECIAL ELECTION
Meridian Bond Issue and County-Wide Enhancement Millage
Special Election Date: February 25, 2014

Bond Issue Informational Documents County-Wide Enhancement Millage Informational Documents
County-Wide Enhancement Millage PowerPoint District Needs 2014-2024 PowerPoint
F.A.Q. Millage Analysis Chart

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MERIDIAN BOND ISSUE INFORMATION

The Meridian Public Schools Board of Education recently adopted a resolution on calling for a special bond election on February 25, 2014. This bond will address identified needs around facilities, transportation and technology. The District remains in good shape financially with a fund balance of 12% and overall, our buildings are in good condition and have been well maintained. Our students continue to perform well in the classroom and are excelling in their extra-curricular opportunities. In order to continue to serve our students, we must address some important needs over the next 10 years that we are not able to fund with the general operating budget. The proposed bond will generate 7.73 million dollars over a 10 year period with a rate increase of .6 mill for property owners. Bonds would be sold in three different series in: 2014, 2018 and 2022. The Board of Education is also in the process of refunding existing debt in January of 2014 which will decrease the debt by approximately .1 mill.

Facility needs around safety and security, energy savings and improving and maximizing the life of our facilities will be the largest portion of the bond issue. The bond will provide for new electronic surveillance systems at the interior and exterior of all school buildings and bus garage. We will also complete the district-wide secure entrances which require visitors to go to the office during school hours. A separate student drop-off and pick-up zone will be installed at Meridian Jr. High School. Energy savings will be recognized through installing more high-efficient boilers at all buildings on the main campus, upgrading the outdoor lighting to LED and replacing interior lighting at Sanford Elementary and the Administration Building. The majority of the roofs in the district have been replaced in the past thirteen years, however, some roofs at that time still had a lot of usable life. Those roofs would be replaced over the course of the next ten years. Some roofs need to be replaced immediately and other areas would be not be replaced until 2022. Other items that have been identified include:

  • Increased instrument storage at the Jr. High to meet the size of the band

  • Concrete and asphalt replacement (parking lots, sidewalks and playground)

  • Stage lighting at Meridian High School

  • Drain field at Meridian High School

  • Renovating the Jr. High Locker Rooms

  • Storm sewer

  • Classroom flooring at Sanford Elementary and Administration Building

  • Exterior Brick at Sanford Elementary

  • Interior and exterior door replacement at Meridian Elementary, Administration Building and Sanford Elementary

  • Track resurfacing Classroom furniture at Meridian Elementary School

The majority of the technology for the District was purchased with the 2006 bond. Much of that technology is nearing the end of its life expectancy. Our students have never known a time without the internet, computer or cell phones. They are without question, technologically advanced, and require an instructional approach that differs from past practice. We have found that technology increases student engagement and achievement and better prepares students for life, college and careers in the 21st Century. The bond would address technology concerns over the next 10 years with a yearly replacement cycle of some computers and infrastructure.

The last area addressed by the bond would be transportation. The District has been purchasing buses the last few years, but we have an aging fleet with several buses more than 15 years old. In Michigan, we deal with a lot of salt and corrosive substances on the roads which reduce the life expectancy of buses. The bond would call for a continued replacement of 3-4 buses with every series of bond sales. Currently, new buses sell for around $80,000 each. In order to maximize value, the District has been purchasing slightly used buses and would intend to do the same with the bond proceeds.

This bond will appear on the same ballot as the renewal of the County-Wide Enhancement Millage with an election date of Tuesday, February 25, 2014. This bond however is specific only to Meridian School District and will not appear on the ballots outside of this District. Please visit the website for additional information on both the Enhancement Millage Renewal and the Bond for FAQ’s as well as a property tax chart. As always, if you have any comments or questions, please contact me at craig.carmoney@merps.org or 687-3200 ext. 3206.

Bond Issue FAQ’s
 

  1. Can the Bond pay for employee salaries?
     
  2. The District received over 2.3 million dollars in grants for New Tech, why did it not choose to use that money to address some of these issues?
     
  3. Are the technology needs the result of New Tech?
     
  4. Do the boilers need to be replaced only for energy savings?
     
  5. Will new additions result from this bond issue?
     
  6. Why 3 series of bond sales?
     
  7. Can you provide some insight into some of the some issues specific to the identified facility needs?
     
  8. I thought all the roofs were replaced with the 2000 and 2006 bonds.
     
  9. What site work will take place and when?
     
  10. The track looks great, was it recently resurfaced?
     
  11. The bond language refers to a playground, is that for equipment?
     
  12. Is this a separate issue from the Country-Wide Enhancement Millage?
     
  13. How much will this cost me?
     
  14. How will the bond refunding affect me as a taxpayer?
     
  15. Are there other items which might be included with the bond?
     
  16. Will there be any work done in the schools outside of the proposed bond?
     
  17. Last year, a youth football field (Legacy Field) was added to the athletic complex. Did the District provide the funding for that field?
     
  18. How does the language appear on the ballot?

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Can the Bond pay for employee salaries?
No. By law, expenditure of bond proceeds cannot be used for any salaries or for day to day operating expenses.

The District received over 2.3 million dollars in grants for New Tech, why did it not choose to use that money to address some of these issues?
The grant money was identified for a specific purpose and could only be used to support of the New Tech Program. These grants were received from the following foundations and businesses: H.H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, Gerstacker Foundation, Strosacker Foundation, Midland Area Community Foundation, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, and Chemical Bank.

Are the technology needs the result of New Tech?
No, while it is true that students in New Tech are in a 1:1 student to computer environment, the bond is addressing needs K-12. The grants for New Tech have supported the technology at the High School, but the majority of the remaining technology in the district was purchased with the 2006 bond and is nearing or at the end of its useful life expectancy.

Do the boilers need to be replaced only for energy savings?
The boilers in all three buildings on campus are the same age and model. The model was discontinued more than five years ago and by law parts must be made for ten years after the model is discontinued. This means that parts will likely only be available for no more than five more years. 75% of the boilers have been rebuilt in the past 24 months and so far this school year, we have had multiple buildings running at half capacity. The repair cost in the last 18 months has exceeded $30,000.

Will new additions result from this bond issue?
This bond will only address existing spaces within the District, it will not add to the existing footprint.

Why 3 series of bond sales?
By selling the bonds in 3 series, the millage rate is lower than if all the work were to be completed at the same time. Also, because we want to maximize the usage life expectance of roofs, technology, buses and other equipment, we do not want to replace items sooner than necessary. Yearly technology and transportation replacement is a better long-term solution than a large one-time purchase which just creates a large need down the road.

Can you provide some insight into some of the some issues specific to the identified facility needs?
Yes.

  • Let’s start with the High School needs. Roofs over the Community Room, Cafeteria and Gymnasium will need to be replaced. We had 9 buckets collecting water in the fall during a storm in the Community Room. The replacement of that roof is scheduled for 2014. The drain field and stage lighting are original.

  • The Jr. High needs roof replacement over the gymnasium, likely with the 2022 series. The school was originally designed for grades 6-8, but now houses grades 5-8. As a result of housing four grades and as a result of the band significantly increasing in students, we are now short by about 120 lockers for storage space. The bond would add that locker storage space in the hallway. The other area at the Jr. High that is original are the locker rooms. Many of the lockers are rusting in spots and difficult to use and the tile on the floor and showers is broken and in need of replacement. The rest of the building is in great shape.

  • Meridian Elementary will see all the classroom doors replaced, as well as some exterior doors. The classroom doors are original and many are difficult to open and close. The fire alarm system would be upgraded. Some classrooms still have the old chalkboards that would be replaced with new whiteboards. Student lockers would be replaced as those are also original. Classroom furniture, much of it already 25 years old, would also be replaced with the bond. The roofs over the gymnasium, west wing and portable classrooms would also be replaced starting with the portable classrooms in 2014. The other area that would be upgraded is the fire alarm system.

  • Sanford Elementary would see the installation of a secure entrance, PA and clock system, replacement of flooring, interior and exterior lighting upgrades, roof replacement and exterior brick work. The brick on the exterior of the building is crumbling in various areas as a result of freezing and thawing. Steps would be taken to prevent that this issue in the future, as well as, replacement of the brick.

I thought all the roofs were replaced with the 2000 and 2006 bonds.
The majority of the roofs in the District were replaced with those bonds. However, there were areas over gymnasiums and some other spaces that were not in need of replacement at that time. These roofs will be replaced in order of need over the next 10 years.

What site work will take place and when?
Site work will take place in the summer of 2014. It will include a student drop-off and pick-up zone at Meridian Jr. High School to separate the bus, staff and parent traffic in the morning and after school for safety reasons. Repair of concrete and asphalt in parking lots and sidewalks will also take place, with the majority of that work at the Jr. High as well. The fence at the bus garage will be replaced as well as the asphalt. The main storm sewer has issues with the seals which has caused sinkholes in several areas over the last few years. The fix is to put a plastic sleeve in the existing concrete tube as a long-term solution.

The track looks great, was it recently resurfaced?
The track did receive a fresh coat of paint and from a cosmetic standpoint, it looks new. The District had an independent audit completed in the fall of 2012 and followed the recommendations of that audit which included re-striping the lines. The track is still in good structural shape, but it will need to be resurfaced within the next 10 years of this bond.

The bond language refers to a playground, is that for equipment?
The bond does mention the playground and the work would include new asphalt at Meridian Elementary School on its playground. That asphalt has several cracks and is in need of replacement. The equipment of the playground is all in good shape.

Is this a separate issue from the Country-Wide Enhancement Millage?
Yes. The renewal of the County-Wide Enhancement Millage will appear on the same ballot, but the bond will be a separate issue. The bond will only be for residents of Meridian Public Schools to decide.

How much will this cost me?
The tax increase is determined by multiplying the taxable value by .0006. A home with a market value of $100,000 and a taxable value of $50,000 would see a yearly tax increase of $30.00. A tool has been provided on the website to calculate the specific cost of the bond issue based on the taxable value of your property. www.mytaxcalc.com/meridian

How will the bond refunding affect me as a taxpayer?
The Board of Education has authorized the refinancing of the 2005 Refunding Bonds to take place in January of 2014. The expected result of the refinancing is the decrease of existing debt by .1 mills. Thus the overall net increase for taxpayers should the voters approve the bond would be approximately .5 mill. The Board uses its financial advisors to make recommendations which provide opportunities to lower debt millage for the taxpayers and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Are there other items which might be included with the bond?
Yes. There is a small list of contingency items which might get addressed if the cost for doing the proposed work is less than anticipated. Some of these items would include scoreboards and the restrooms at the athletic complex. It is also possible over the next 10 years that an item that falls within the scope of the bond becomes a new priority.

Will there be any work done in the schools outside of the proposed bond?
Yes. Another round of renovations will take place this summer at Meridian High School. This work is all supported by the grants the District received to enlarge and modify some of its existing learning spaces.

Last year, a youth football field (Legacy Field) was added to the athletic complex. Did the District provide the funding for that field?
No. The Meridian Youth Football Association received grant funding as well as other donations to build that stadium. Hundreds of volunteer hours also went toward the completion of that project. The Meridian Youth Football Association also funds the yearly maintenance of that area.

How does the language appear on the ballot?

BONDING PROPOSAL
Shall Meridian Public Schools, Midland County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Seven Million Seven Hundred Thirty Thousand Dollars ($7,730,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or more series, for the purpose of:

partially remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, equipping and re-equipping school facilities; acquiring, installing and equipping technology for school facilities; purchasing school buses; constructing, equipping, developing and improving athletic facilities and playgrounds; and developing and improving sites?
The following is for informational purposes only:

The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2014, under current law, is 0.60 mill ($0.60 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding in any single series, exclusive of any refunding, is fifteen (15) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire all series of this bond debt is 1.81 mills ($1.81 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

The school district does not expect to borrow from the State to pay debt service on the bonds. The total amount of qualified bonds currently outstanding is $19,845,000. The total amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is $-O~. The estimated computed millage rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.
(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.)

 

Meridian Public Schools

Address: 3361 North M-30, Sanford, MI 48657~ Phone: 989-687-3200  FAX: 989-687-3222

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