Battle Creek School Voters Make a Tough Choice Tuesday
If you live in the Battle Creek School District you’ll be asked to vote Tuesday, May 4th on a $44.8 million bond proposal to transform the district’s middle schools that could stretch out to 2047. The vote comes just as the Federal Government has announced a massive infusion of COVID relief funds to schools. Battle Creek will get $49 million. Many are wondering how that money can and will be used in Battle Creek.
Here’s what the Bond money would be used for if it passes
Approximately $32.4 million would go toward funding Northwestern renovations and additions.
- Northwestern will become a K–8 visual and performing arts academy.
- The school experience will be transformed, fostering learning, exploration, and personal growth through engagement in visual and performing arts.
- Extensive renovations to Northwestern Middle School will include new building additions for visual and performing arts studio and performance space, a new welcome center, new kindergarten wing, new windows, doors, and complete HVAC upgrades with an addition of air conditioning for summer learning.
Approximately $12.4 million would go toward funding Springfield renovations.
- Springfield will continue its transformation into a service-learning school, providing a high-quality education that will help students create stronger connections with their community, develop communication and problem-solving skills and promote empathy.
- Springfield Middle School building improvements will include safety upgrades, new energy-efficient windows and doors, and extensive upgrades to its HVAC system including air conditioning.
What will it cost a taxpayer?
The school district says that for every $1,000 of Home Taxable Value, it would cost $1.51 per year. That’s less than $6.50/month for a family with a $100,000 home.
What about those Federal COVID dollars coming to BCPD?
The timing of the election and announcement of federal aid is unfortunate, because of the lack of information about how the federal funds may be spent. Battle Creek Public Schools will be getting $49 million in aid from three different funds, earmarked for COVID relief, and the money is supposed to be used within two years.
Battle Creek School Superintendent Kim Carter said “Right now some of the clarification is still coming. But what we know is that we'll have 2 years and we want to prioritize those funds to make sure that our students are making progress towards grade-level goals. So, we'll do some investments and the expansion of early childhood learning opportunities with a focus on early literacy. We want to make sure that we are investing in the health safety and wellness of our students with those funds. With another specific focus on social, emotional, and mental health supports we'll invest in professional development for our staff and continuing to work on closing the digital divide. ”
Indications are that the money could go for things like sanitization, air purification systems, mental health services, and summer learning. But guidelines also say the money could go for “other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.”
So, what does all that mean? It’s your call. The polls are open Tuesday from 7 am to 8 pm to vote in person.
Ballot Language of the BCPS Bond Proposal
Shall Battle Creek Public Schools, Calhoun County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Forty-Four Million Eight Hundred Thousand Dollars ($44,800,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, for the purpose of: erecting additions to, remodeling, equipping and re-equipping, and furnishing and refurnishing school buildings; acquiring and installing instructional technology and instructional technology equipment for school buildings; and equipping, developing and improving playgrounds, parking areas, driveways and sites?
The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2021 is 2.20 mills ($2.20 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty-six (26) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 3.32 mills ($3.32 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 $42,785,000. The total amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is $0. 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.)