May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - East China School District

 
May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - East China School District
May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal
                    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HISTORY AND FEATURES

1.   What is on the May 7, 2019 ballot?

     On May 7, 2019 voters in East China Schools will be asked to consider a bond proposal to
     improve District facilities. The improvements would address declining enrollment, safety,
     security, health, energy efficiency, and technology issues within our facilities, and would
     update learning environments to meet 21st century curriculum and educational goals.
     Program highlights would include a new high school, middle school and Riverview East
     High School on the Meisner campus, remodeling existing school buildings, consolidating
     our early childhood program at the Pine River Elementary site, and demolition of various
     buildings. The total program cost is $148,680,000.

2.   How was this plan developed?

          In May 2016, East China Schools approached voters with a ballot initiative to provide
           much needed upgrades to existing school facilities. After that failed, the district began
           a process to understand community sentiments.
          A Strategic Planning effort led by MASB ran from December 2016 through October
           2017. One of the goals developed in this process stated “within 2 years create a
           comprehensive building plan with community input” with first year objectives of:
           create a consolidation plan-explore options; realign curriculum across all levels and
           buildings; create enrollment projection reports; and create a long-term program and
           class offerings plan.
          In January 2018, the Building Plan Committee was formed. That committee
           recommended the District pursue a community-driven process to determine the most
           optimum future bond initiative. Based on enrollment forecasts and facility conditions,
           administration and the Board felt that the District was headed down a ‘non-
           sustainable’ path, and a new course of action with regard to facilities was required for
           the future stability and viability of the District.
          In the summer of 2018, ECSD partnered with TMP Architecture and Auch Construction
           to conduct a Facility Assessment to identify building needs across the District.

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May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - East China School District
Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                       Frequently Asked Questions

          The District formed a Bond Steering Committee in August 2018, comprised of 41
           participants, including teachers, principals, parents, community members and
           administrators. The Committee’s charge was to review, analyze, and provide input
           into a plan for upgrading and creating operational efficiencies for ECSD’s educational
           facilities to support a culture of academic excellence, opportunities and success for all
           students.
          The Bond Steering Committee held meetings from August 2018 through November
           2018, at which time a recommendation was brought to the Board of Education.
          Early in the process, the Bond Steering Committee listened and learned about the
           ‘state of ECSD facilities and programs’ and also learned about modern learning
           environments and what it would take to bring ECSD facilities up to those standards.
           The committee then prioritized Guiding Principles, which were tenets to guide their
           thinking as they began the rigorous process of analyzing concepts and ideas to meet
           those principles. The most daunting task was to ‘right-size’ the district in order to
           keep the district sustainable for the future and to create more robust opportunities
           for students in the future.
          As a final step, a community survey was conducted and two community engagement
           sessions were held in October 2018 to gain feedback on the direction the committee
           was considering. There were over 100 community members in attendance at each of
           the two engagement sessions.
          On November 12, 2018 the Bond Steering Committee presented its findings and
           recommendation to the Board and on November 26, 2018, the Board unanimously
           supported placing a $148,680,000 bond initiative on the May 7, 2019 ballot.

3.   Why wouldn’t East China Schools split to form St. Clair and Marine City School Districts?

     This option is not economically sustainable. Currently East China School District benefits
     from the shared services between SC and MC. We have a shared stadium, performing
     arts center, transportation department and all central office services (business,
     operations, personnel, superintendent and technology) including shared servers and
     internet services. Decreasing enrollment throughout the district does not support the
     creation of separate school districts.

4.   What are the features of the May 7, 2019 bond proposal?

     New High School and New Middle School on Meisner Site
          Safe and Secure Entry
          Centralized Welcome Ctr. including District Administrative Offices and Counseling Ctr.
          Two-Story Middle School Classroom Wing
          Two-Story High School Classroom Wing
          One-Story Riverview East High School Wing with dedicated Safe and Secure Entrance
          Dining Hall and Social Commons
          Outdoor Learning Courtyard celebrating District heritage and traditions

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May 7, 2019 Bond Proposal - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - East China School District
Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                     Frequently Asked Questions

          Collaborative Learning Commons and Media Center
          Innovation Station housing hands on, project-based learning activities with access to
           Outdoor Learning Courtyard
          Natatorium (Competition Pool)
          Competition Arena (3 courts/2000 seats) with 2nd Story Indoor Running Track
          Practice Gymnasium (1 regulation size court / storage area)
          Weight Fitness Center
          New Stadium Accessible Locker Rooms and Public Restrooms
          Zone for after-hours activities and/or community access
          Canopied Connection to Existing Performing Arts Center
          Segregated bus, auto and pedestrian traffic routes
          Parking
          Outdoor Athletic Fields including:
             o Two (2) Competition Baseball Fields
             o Two (2) Competition Softball Fields
             o Eight (8) Tennis Courts
             o Two (2) Natural Turf Multi-Purpose Practice Fields
             o One (1) Practice Baseball Field and One (1) Practice Softball Field

     New Elementary School at current St. Clair Middle School
          New Canopy to Identify Entrance
          Safe & Secure Entry Vestibule
          HVAC and Electrical Updates
          Technology Upgrades
          Improved area for Kindergarten students (space, restroom, etc.)
          Flexible/Collaborative Furniture
          Transform Site from a Middle School to Elementary (addressing vehicular, bus and
           parent drop off)
          New age appropriate Playground Equipment
          Repave all parking lots

     Belle River Elementary School
          Safe & Secure Entry Vestibule / Welcome Center Addition and Renovation
          Renovation of existing building (ceiling and flooring)
          New Fire Protection for entire school
          Restrooms added in classrooms
          HVAC and Electrical Updates
          Technology Upgrades
          Flexible/Collaborative Furniture
          Improved location for coat & boot storage for all students
          Repave all parking lots
          Concrete sidewalk replacement

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                      Frequently Asked Questions

4.   continued

     Palms Elementary School
          Safe & Secure Entry Vestibule / Welcome Center Addition and Renovation
          Renovation of existing building (ceiling and flooring)
          Improved spaces for Kindergarten students (larger space with restrooms, etc.)
          New Fire Protection for entire school
          HVAC and Electrical Updates (air conditioning)
          Technology Upgrades
          Flexible/Collaborative Furniture
          Repave all parking lots
          Concrete sidewalk replacement

     Pine River Elementary and Early Childhood Center
          Safe & Secure Entry Vestibule / Welcome Center Addition and Renovation
          Restrooms added in classrooms
          New Fire Protection System for entire building
          HVAC and Electrical Updates
          Technology Upgrades
          Flexible/Collaborative Furniture
          Improved location for coat & boot storage for all students
          Construct Early Childhood Center Addition
          New age appropriate Early Childhood Playground Equipment

5.   How will the bond proposal impact students and the community?

     It is the District’s goal to provide updated facilities that support 21st century teaching and
     to advance learning conditions and methods of instruction to better prepare students for
     meeting the expectations and demands of employers and colleges/universities in the
     future. Additionally, the Board of Education believes that the upgrades that have been
     identified in the assessment process, and given high priority by the professional team,
     support proper stewardship of the community’s investment in our schools.

6.   What are the technology features of Bond 2019?

          Interactive Displays
          Instructor Devices
          LCD Displays
          Student Devices
          Document Cameras
          Infrastructure upgrades to support upgraded Instructional Technology

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                      Frequently Asked Questions

7.    Can bond dollars be used to purchase band and athletic uniforms?

      Bond dollars cannot be used to purchase band and or athletic uniforms but the costs of
      these purchases have been factored into the overall plan for consolidation.

8.    What is “collaborative space” and why is it important in schools today?

      Collaborative space within a school allows students to learn effectively in groups,
      encouraging each other to ask questions, explain and justify their opinions, articulate their
      reasoning, and elaborate and reflect upon their knowledge. The teacher acts as a
      facilitator, helping students with their research and guiding them through the learning
      process.

      Many have found this to be beneficial in helping students learn effectively and efficiently
      versus more traditional independent learning alone. Some positive results from
      collaborative learning activities have been documented in research and include:
       students are able to learn more material by engaging with one another and making
          sure everyone understands
       students retain more information from thoughtful discussion
       students have a more positive attitude about learning and about each other by
          working together

      In order to create collaborative space, we would need to provide the resources for
      information processing, collaboration, assistance, and management of the learning
      activities. These include technology, flexible furniture that allows for different
      configurations, appropriate lighting, and finishes.

9.    Why are the consolidations/building closures needed?

      East China School District has been experiencing declining enrollment starting in 2001. In
      2001 ECSD had a student count of 5766. This school year (2018-2019) our count is 4096.
      The projected enrollment numbers and our actual student count numbers show a five to
      six year continued decline in enrollment.

10.   What will the consolidated high school and middle school campus be named?

      The name of the new HS and MS campus will be decided on by a committee comprised of
      students, community members and school employees, if the bond successfully passes. It
      has not been discussed as of yet.

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                    Frequently Asked Questions

11.   Why is the design of the building and layout not complete?

      Conceptual plans for the projects have been developed in order to estimate construction
      costs. If approved by the voters, the detailed design of the projects would take place. The
      detailed design of a building program is costly and will not be completed for
      practical/financial reasons unless the bond issue is approved by the community. These
      details will take the architects several months of work with input from staff, community
      members, and other professionals.

12.   How are neighboring districts addressing the aging condition of their school buildings?

      Neighboring districts have experienced the same issue of aging buildings. Bond programs
      have been approved and implemented all around us. In neighboring Port Huron Area
      School District, a $105 million bond program is nearing completion and in other
      neighboring districts bond programs have been implemented in recent years. In today’s
      competitive environment, districts seek every advantage. The following chart includes
      our neighboring districts’ current bond and sinking fund millage rates.

                  Comparison of Total Capital Improvement Millage
                          (ECSD & Surrounding Communities)

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                      Frequently Asked Questions

13.   Why is it important to attract and retain students in the district?

      Public schools in Michigan receive money on a per-pupil basis. That means that attracting
      and retaining students is critical. The quality of our programs and facilities plays a role in
      both of these areas. If approved by the voters, the bond program would upgrade facilities
      to support updated teaching methods, improve operational efficiencies in our facilities,
      provide progressive learning environments, and protect and maintain the community’s
      past investment in our school buildings. Parents have choices regarding where their
      children will receive an education. It is the intent of the District and Board of Education to
      maintain its reputation for providing quality programs and facilities in order to attract and
      retain students.

14.   What is the plan to keep facility improvement disruptions to a minimum?

      Work at our school facilities would be scheduled so it does not interfere with day-to-day
      operations or pedestrian safety. As the program commences, the construction schedule
      would be reviewed and coordinated, on a regular basis, with the superintendent and key
      building leaders. While the summer construction season would be utilized for a majority
      of the work, if work is ongoing during school days, there would be clear separation
      between construction and ongoing operations through barricades and fencing. Safety is
      paramount and would be the key factor in determining the construction sequencing.

15.   What will happen to each of the school buildings scheduled for closure under this plan?

      Any remaining buildings that are not sold will be scheduled for demolition after
      construction of the other facilities are complete in the school year 2023-2024. Money has
      been allocated in the bond for the demolition.

16.   What happens if the bond does not pass?

      Due to East China School District’s aging building and significant declining enrollment, we
      would still need to make a consolidation plan. The current number of buildings cannot
      continue to be supported. This consolidation plan would use our current buildings and
      the plan would come out of additional committee work.

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                            Frequently Asked Questions

FINANCIAL AND ELECTION INFORMATION

17.     What is the estimated cost of this bond program?

        Belle River Elementary School                                                $ 4,783,115
        Palms Elementary School                                                      $ 5,798,791
        Renovation of St. Clair Middle School to Elementary School                   $ 9,917,762
        Pine River Elementary School and Early Childhood Addition                  $ 10,646,115
        New High School and New Middle School on Meisner Site                     $ 116,197,764
        Demolition of Remaining Buildings                                            $ 1,196,669
        Plus Election/Issuance Cost                                                  $ 3,234,603
        Minus Estimated Interest Earnings                                          ($ 3,094,819)
        Total Bond Program Estimate                                               $148,680,000

18.     How much would the proposal cost the average taxpayer?

        In the first year, the millage rate would increase by 1.7 mills over the 2018 debt levy. A
        homeowner can use the following calculation to determine their individual tax increase:

        ½ of Home Market Value traditionally equals its Taxable Value. For instance, for a house
        market value of $100,000, the tax increase would be calculated on ½ value or $50,000.
        The calculation: $50,000 X 1.7 / 1,000 = a tax increase of $85.00. A breakdown of tax
        impact follows:

                                                    (1.7 mill Increase)
         Market Value of      Taxable Value of                               Estimated Monthly
                                                    Annual Increase
          Your Home             Your Home                                         Increase
                                                       in Taxes
              $80,000              $40,000                $68.00                   $5.67
             $100,000              $50,000                $85.00                   $7.08
             $120,000              $60,000              $102.00                    $8.50
             $200,000             $100,000              $170.00                   $14.17
             $300,000             $150,000              $255.00                   $21.25

      As part of the School District’s upcoming bond election, we have created an online tax
      calculator that estimates the impact on a taxpayer’s annual tax bill if the election is
      successful.
      Follow the link is below:
                                   http://www.pfmtaxcalc.com/EastChina

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                      Frequently Asked Questions

19.    Can I deduct these property taxes on my income tax return?

       Property taxes may be deductible as itemized deductions on your federal income tax
       return if you itemize. You may also be eligible for the Michigan Homestead Property Tax
       Credit on your Michigan income tax return. Please consult with your tax preparer.

20.    What exactly is the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit?

       The Michigan homestead property tax credit is a method through which some taxpayers
       can receive a tax credit for an amount of their property tax that exceeds a certain
       percentage of their household income. This program establishes categories under which
       homeowners or renters are eligible for a homestead property tax credit.
       Please consult with your tax preparer to determine if you are eligible for this important
       and valuable tax credit.

21. Can the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit affect the tax impact of this millage
      increase?

      Yes, the increase in taxes could potentially be offset by the Michigan Homestead Property
      Tax Credit.
      Below is a summary of the revised Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit:
      Households that pay homestead property taxes greater than 3.2% of their annual income
      may also be eligible for the Michigan’s Homestead Property Tax Credit. Eligible households
      may deduct up to 60% (up to 100% for senior citizens, please see the senior credit table
      below) of the millage increase cost up to a $1,500 Homestead Tax Credit limit. The
      eligibility for the credit begins to decrease after household income exceeds $51,001 and
      ends completely after the household income exceeds $60,001. Please see below the
      general reduction table and senior credit table below:

                      General Credit Reduction               Senior Credit
                      Resources    % of credit          Resources      % Credit
                       $51,000      100.00%              $21,000        100%
                       $51,001      90.00%               $21,001         96%
                       $52,001      80.00%               $22,001         92%
                       $53,001      70.00%               $23,001         88%
                       $54,001      60.00%               $24,001         84%
                       $55,001      50.00%               $25,001         80%
                       $56,001      40.00%               $26,001         76%
                       $57,001      30.00%               $27,001         72%
                       $58,001      20.00%               $28,001         68%
                       $59,001      10.00%               $29,001         64%
                       $60,001       0.00%               $30,001         60%

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                         Frequently Asked Questions

22.    Economically, is this a good time for a bond proposal?

          Assessment items at the facilities that would remain in operation were prioritized due
           to their age and end of useful life. These items will not disappear; they will only
           worsen with age. In addition, construction costs recently have been rising after hitting
           very low points a few years ago. Delaying these improvements may result in higher
           construction costs in the future.
          Current interest rates on school bonds are near historic lows. If approved by the
           voters, the district would have to pay a smaller amount of interest to bond holders for
           the bonds than it would at another time should rates hold, thus maximizing taxpayer
           dollars.
          The value and vitality of a community often rests on the quality and marketability of
           its schools.
          A bond program can provide opportunities for local contractors and businesses to
           participate in the economic benefits of a construction program, thus providing
           economic stimulus to a community.
          The District’s current debt levy of 2.84 mills is projected to progressively diminish by
           2024, thus giving the District the opportunity to fund these projects with less impact
           to the millage rate.

23. Please explain the millage amounts as they appear on the actual ballot language. Ballot
      language is on page 14 of this document.

                2.7 mills is the levied amount for this bond. This would be a 1.7 mill increase
                 from the current levy due to the fact that the district is retiring 1.0 mills of debt
                 this year. (see chart below)
                3.86 mills is the estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be
                 required to retire this bond debt. (see chart below)

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                     Frequently Asked Questions

24.   What is the Sinking Fund Debt?

      The East China School District sinking fund (.4000 mills) was renewed for 10 years in 2013.
      The sinking fund has very specific guidelines on how the money can be used because it
      was approved prior to 2017 when guidelines were changed. East China can use sinking
      fund for the purchase of real estate and for the construction or repair of school buildings.
      It cannot be used for general maintenance, equipment, furnishing or technology
      upgrades.

25.   Can money from the bond program be used to pay for salaries and benefits?

      No, that is against state law. Bond dollars cannot be used for operation expenses such as
      employee salaries, repairs, maintenance, or energy costs. Bond program funds must be
      accounted for separately from general operating funds. Bond funds are also subject to
      audit.

26.   Please explain what bond program money can cover and what it can’t.

      Bond proceeds can be used for the following items:
      1. Construction and remodeling of facilities
      2. Purchase of technology equipment
      3. Equipment and furniture
      4. Site improvements
      5. Bus purchases

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                           Frequently Asked Questions

      Bond proceeds cannot be used for the following items:
      6. Salaries and wages
      7. General operating expenses and maintenance
      8. Classroom supplies and textbooks

27.   What are the key dates leading up to the May 7, 2019 bond election?

      Voter registration procedures have changed since the last election.
      April 22, 2019 – Last day to register in any manner other than in person with the local clerk for the
      May election.
      April 23 – May 7th at 8pm – In-person registration with local clerk with proof of residency.
      May 3, 2019 at 5pm – Deadline for electors to obtain an absent voter ballot via First Class mail.
      May 6, 2019 at 4pm – Deadline for electors to obtain an absent voter ballot in person in clerk’s
      office.
      May 7, 2019 – Election Day registrants may obtain and vote an absent voter ballot in person in
      clerk’s office or vote in person in the proper precinct.
      Election Day is Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

28.   Where do I register to vote?

      To vote in the May 7, 2019 bond election, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of
      age by Election Day, a resident of Michigan and of East China School District. Please visit
      your Local Township or city clerk to register to vote or visit any Secretary of State office.

29.   If I cannot make it to the polls on May 7, 2019 what are my options for absentee voting?

      Applications for Absentee Ballots are available:
      1. On-line at www.michigan.gov/vote
      2. In your school building offices
      3. At your City Clerk’s office

      Note: Once election ballots are available in the clerk’s office, you can walk into your
      clerk’s office, receive an absentee application, fill it out, and immediately be given your
      ballot to cast your vote.

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                     Frequently Asked Questions

30. Where do I vote?

A list of precincts is outlined below. Polls will be open on May 7, 2019 from 7am until 8pm.
      St. Clair
          Ward 1 City Hall 547 N. Carney Drive
          Ward 2 Immanuel Lutheran Church 415 N. Ninth Street
          Ward 3 Golf Course Club House 515 Fred Moore Highway
      Cottrellville
          Township Hall 7008 Marsh Road, Cottrellville
      China
          Township Hall 4560 Indian Trail, China Township
      East China
          Township Hall 5111 River Road, East China
      St. Clair Township
          Township Hall 1539 S. Bartlett, St. Clair
      Marine City
          Fire Hall 200 S. Parker, Marine City
      Casco
          Township Hall 1285 Meldrum Rd., Casco
      Ira
          Township Hall 7085 Meldrum Rd., Casco
      Columbus
          1732 Bauman Rd., Columbus

31.   Who may I contact if I have additional questions?

      You are welcome to call or email:
      Suzanne Cybulla, Superintendent
      scybulla@ecsd.us
      Phone: (810.676.1017)
      For more information you can also visit the District Website at:
      https://eastchinaschools.org/

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Bond 2019 – East China Schools                                      Frequently Asked Questions

32. How will the bond proposal appear on the ballot?

                                 EAST CHINA SCHOOL DISTRICT
                                     BONDING PROPOSAL

     Shall East China School District, St. Clair County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to
     exceed One Hundred Forty-Eight Million Six Hundred Eighty Thousand Dollars
     ($148,680,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or
     more series, for the purpose of:

       erecting, furnishing, and equipping a new school building; remodeling, erecting
       additions to, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping existing
       school buildings; acquiring and installing instructional technology and
       instructional technology equipment for school buildings; equipping, developing,
       and improving playgrounds, play fields, athletic fields, and athletic facilities; and
       developing and improving driveways, parking areas, and sites?
                        The following is for informational purposes only:
     The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2019, under current
     law, is 2.70 mills ($2.70 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation). The maximum number of
     years the bonds of any series may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty-
     eight (28) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required
     to retire this bond debt is 3.86 mills ($3.86 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 $0.00. The total
     amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is $0.00. The estimated computed millage
     rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.

     The total amount of qualified bonds currently outstanding is $3,695,000. The total
     amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is $0.00.

     (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.)

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