Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Grosse Pointe Public School System requesting on the November ballot?
On November 6, 2018, voters in the Grosse Pointe Public School System will be asked to consider a bond not to exceed $111,040,000 for specific facility needs as explored in the 16 Town Halls. These focus on keeping our students safe, warm and dry.
What are some examples of Bond projects the district would implement if the bond passes?
This bond would focus on keeping our students Safe, Warm and Dry:
Bond items related to safety include:
- secure vestibules
- doors that lock from inside the classroom not the hallway
- integrated camera systems
- more cameras throughout the buildings and grounds
- updated public address (PA) systems
- the technology infrastructure to support these (wiring NOT end-user devices like student computers or chrome books), and
- asbestos abatement (particularly where energy efficient lighting is being installed in ceilings).
Bond items here include:
- efficient HVAC systems (boilers, air handlers),
- electrical upgrades, and
Bond items here include:
- Replacing roofs,
- masonry and tuck-pointing work, and
- updated bathrooms.
What is the exact Bond language voters will see on the ballot?
Shall the Grosse Pointe Public School System, County of Wayne, Michigan, borrow the principal sum of not to exceed One Hundred Eleven Million Forty Thousand Dollars ($111,040,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds for the purpose of defraying the cost of:
- remodeling and/or constructing additions, primarily additions for secure vestibules, to existing School District buildings, including security, roof, energy conservation and mechanical systems improvements;
- equipping, furnishing, reequipping and refurnishing School District buildings;
- acquiring and installing technology infrastructure and instructional technology equipment; and
- improving and developing sites, including outdoor athletic facilities, paving, fencing, and drains, in the School District?
The debt millage levy required to retire all bonds of the School District currently outstanding and proposed by this ballot proposal is estimated to be at or below 1.50 mills higher than the debt millage levy for 2018. The estimated millage to be levied in 2019 to service this issue of bonds is 1.82 mills ($1.82 per $1,000 of taxable value) and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds of this issue is 2.21 mills ($2.21 per $1,000 of taxable value). The bonds may be issued in multiple series, payable in the case of each series in not to exceed 21 years from the date of issue of such series.
(Under State law, bond proceeds may not be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries, routine maintenance or repair costs or other School District operating expenses.)
What does this mean to me?
1 mill is 1/1000 of the home’s taxable value. Taxable value is roughly half the market value. This is for approximately 1.5 mills.
Estimated Cost to Taxpayer
Home Market Value Annual Cost Monthly Cost $ 200,000 $ 150 $ 13 $ 300,000 $ 225 $ 19 $ 400,000 $ 300 $ 25
What happens if voters turn down the bond?
If voters turn down this proposal, future costs of repairs to our buildings would have to come out of the district’s general fund budget, which is our main operating fund for students’ instructional needs including all staffing.
What about the sale of buildings or grounds?
GPPSS continues to investigate potential sale or lease of buildings to right-size our district for current and future enrollment. The Board of Education, Blue Ribbon Facilities Committee, and each of the 16 Town Halls looked at enrollment projections and building utilization as well as possible lease rates, sale prices and operational costs. The sale of the properties would not be sufficient to meet the urgent repair and/or replacement needs throughout the district on an ongoing, long-term basis. Here is a real estate assessment conducted by Plante Moran Cresa for the Blue Ribbon Facilities Committee.
What is the difference between a sinking fund and a bond?
A bond is a form of borrowing, which means taxpayers must pay back the borrowed funds over a period of years with interest. Bonds are used for specific, non-recurring projects such as purchasing boilers and asbestos abatement. Bond funds cannot be used for operating costs (salaries, benefits, utilities, etc.).
A sinking fund millage is levied, not borrowed, which means the revenues are generated from a tax and do not include the district taking on additional debt or interest expense. In simple terms, a sinking fund is a savings account into which a local school district can deposit voter-approved local millage revenue in order to pay cash for urgent building projects or repairs as they arise.
Why not increase the sinking fund instead of asking for a bond?
The amount a district can ask voters to approve for sinking funds is capped statewide at 3 mills; our voters last approved 1 mill in 2014 (set to expire in 2019). This generates approximately $2.5 million annually. Identified needs to be addressed in the next 1-3 years total over $111 million.
What about the increase in property values? Won’t that bring in more money?
The Constitutional Headlee Amendment requires the district to reduce the millage rate when the annual growth of existing property is greater than the rate of inflation. As a result, tax revenue increases are capped at the rate of inflation. Headlee law caps taxable value growth and therefore tax increases from increasing property values. Generally speaking, the Sinking Fund is expected to generate $2.5 million per year, but may decrease if property values decrease.
How do we decide what to put on the list and in what order?
- Ongoing with a comprehensive review annually
- Identification for repair/replacement in the fall = work completed that summer
- Walk-through every year
- In fall, outline work and assign priority order to each item
- A high priority status = work completed that summer
- Includes both proactive work (based on estimated lifespan) and reactive repairs
In 2017, the district conducted a boiler assessment. From that, boilers were placed on a priority waiting list. However, boiler conditions may change and that may prompt a particular boiler to jump to the front of the list.
District staff drive every site multiple times per year to assess parking lot conditions. Depending on the severity and pace of decline, parking lots are placed on the Sinking Fund project list for repair and/or replacement.
The list of proposed projects was explored both in the Blue Ribbon Facilities Committee in the fall of 2017 and in the 16 Town Halls at each building this past winter and spring.
The average age of our buildings is 77 years. The district chose the November election for transparency and to eliminate special election costs.