Imlay City Schools seeks
$36.8 million for upgrades, additions
IMLAY CITY – Some 20 months ago, district leaders began discussing their options to bring a funding proposal in front of voters and come Tuesday, those efforts will culminate with a vote by school district residents on a 20 year, $36.8 million bond request.
Proponents bill the measure as a no tax rate increase as the funding would amount to the continuation of the 6.5 debt millage rate that currently exists.
“Our mission is to provide children in our community with an excellent education, a world-class education. In order to do so, we need to assure that the facilities of the district provide teachers the best opportunity to conduct that work,” said Supt. Dr. Stu Cameron.
“This means we need to have learning spaces that are relevant and current, that are safe, and predispose them to learn as much as possible.”
The funds would allow for the remodeling and upgrade of schools and district facilities. In communicating their plans to the community, district leaders have used the tagline “Safer, Smarter, Stronger” to emphasize how the projects would result in a safer learning environment, provide for more modern facilities and learning tools and better protect the community’s investment in the schools.
The bulk of the proposed projects encompass things like roof repairs, updated electric and HVAC systems, more secure public entrances, upgrades to public address and surveillance systems and the purchase of new classroom technology. Other items include the renovation of media centers, purchase of 19 buses and various paving/parking lot projects.
Two new construction projects are also proposed. At Weston, a new wing with six classrooms would be built to accommodate early childhood programming at an estimated cost of nearly $3 million. At the high school, a 500-seat performing arts center would be added on to the south end of the building. The performing arts center would be utilized for student instruction, performances and community use. It’s projected that addition will cost about $14.2 million.
Cameron said that the center’s footprint and cost have been identified. The district won’t proceed with the design of the facility until after the vote.
“The district worked carefully with a facilities assessment team to determine critical and long-term needs. We used focus groups from the community to help inform the decisions that resulted in the proposal. We closely examined what we believe our students need in order to leave us and be not only competitive, but head-and-shoulders above the competition,” Cameron said.
“We examined ways to do so that would not add additional financial burden to taxpayers.”
In the 2021 tax year, the district’s debt millage rate is due to drop from 6.5 to 1.15 mills when the bonds associated with 1993 construction of the current high school are paid off.
“Should the proposal pass, the tax millage rate will not increase. In fact, the average millage rate during the life of the 20-year bond will be approximately 5.3 mills – so the tax rate will actually reduce over the life of the bond. By the mid-point of the life of the bond, voters will be paying a lower millage rate than today.”
Per state law, bond monies cannot be used for things like salaries, textbooks, retirement costs or operating expenses and districts can only use the funds for the list of projects submitted to the State Department of Treasury in a bond application.
“The district is in a unique position to assure the health and well-being of our schools for the next 20 years. This bond proposal reflects a strategic plan to make the facilities, systems, and education in the district viable and effective for the long run,” Cameron said.
“I believe that the passage of this proposal can positively impact generations of children in our community, as well as the community itself.”
A detailed list of the proposed projects per school building can be found online at icschools.us.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 5.