TRENTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS Frequently Asked Questions About the May 6 school bond election (Updated April 3, 2008) What is a bond proposal? A bond proposal asks voters to approve the sale of bonds. When the bonds are sold, they generate revenue for building improvements and equipment purchases. How can bond monies be used? Money generated from the sale of bonds can only be used to pay for capital improvements that are described in the ballot. Before a bond proposal can be presented to voters, school officials must review the need for the proposal, the scope of work to be completed, and the anticipated costs with Department of Treasury officials in Lansing. Once the Department of Treasury pre-approves the bond proposal, it can be submitted to school district voters. Trenton’s bond proposal has been pre-approved. Can bond money be used to pay for salaries or other operating expenses? No. By law, money generated from the sale of bonds can only be used for projects pre- approved by the Michigan Department of Treasury. What tax rate do residents currently pay for building debt or previous bond proposals? Zero. (Trenton Public Schools is one of the few districts in Michigan that does not levy any debt millage to maintain district buildings. The last bond proposal was approved by Trenton voters on June 10, 1968. It was for a twenty-six year bond. The district paid the bonds off in 1993; however, the district stopped levying taxes for the issue in 1983 (and instead paid for the cost of the bonds with general fund money). Why is the bond proposal necessary? Trenton currently has clean--but aged--buildings. With an average age of 49 years, our buildings are now showing their age. This bond proposal will help the district create healthy environments for students, improve safety and security, and address technology needs. How will the bond proposal impact property values? Studies have concluded that quality schools with adequate space and updated facilities protect property values and that homeowners and prospective home buyers want to live in a community with good public schools. Approval of the bond proposal will position the district to continue the investment the community has made in the Trenton Public Schools by maintaining the facilities and enhancing the educational program for students. What is the difference between the district’s general fund and bond (capital project) fund? General fund dollars are used to pay for the day-to-day operation of the school district. Operating fund expenses include such things as classroom instruction, support services, wages, benefits, purchased services, routine repairs, supplies, and materials. School districts establish a capital project fund (through the sale of bonds) when large scale building improvement projects are needed. Allowable uses include the purchase and development of sites; erecting, furnishing and equipping new buildings or building additions; remodeling, refurnishing, and re-equipping existing buildings; purchasing educational technology; acquiring school buses; developing and improving playgrounds, playfields, athletic fields and facilities and sites. All projects must be pre-approved by the Department of Treasury and can only be used to pay for those projects described in the ballot. Why doesn’t the school district pay for building updates from the general operating fund? To pay for building updates of this magnitude would be difficult given the amount of money that is available in the operating fund. Where has the money come from in previous years to pay for building maintenance and repairs? Since the 1968 bonds were paid off, regular, routine building maintenance has been provided through the school district’s operational funds. However, the School Board has concluded that major updates are now needed at all school facilities. These updates include replacement of roofs, heating, electrical, ventilation, and exhaust systems. The costs of these projects exceed the district’s annual operational fund. Where do the school district’s operational funds come from? Prior to the passage of Proposal A in the early 1990s, all school taxes were collected locally and stayed within each school community. Our community was fortunate to have a large industrial tax base which kept taxes low for residents. The tax base provided the revenue to fund the school district’s educational program and maintain school facilities. With the passage of Proposal A, the funding formula for schools changed. All property owners in the State of Michigan continue to pay school taxes; however, taxes now are collected locally and sent to the State of Michigan for distribution to all public school districts across Michigan. Trenton residents no longer benefit to the same degree from our industrial tax base. What will the bond proposal cost residents? The total amount of the bond proposal is $37.08 million. This translates to a projected tax increase for 2008 of 2.65 mills. The cost to the average homeowner (who lives in a home with a market value of $150,000) is anticipated to be approximately $199 per year (or about 54 cents a day). After receiving the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit, costs will be less for senior citizens and for residents with incomes under $70,000. To calculate your projected cost, the school district has included special software on its website (www.trenton.k12.mi.us). The software is free and easy to use. What will my tax rate be? Trenton’s bond issue has been structured using several conservative assumptions to assure that the debt millage rate remains at or below 2.65 mills. If the District’s tax base shrinks or grows at a slower rate than the current debt repayment schedule assumes, there may or may not be a need to increase the debt millage rate. The financial advisor has, for planning purposes, assumed a higher interest rate than we expect to commit to when the bonds are sold. The District has also been conservative in its assumptions regarding the future growth of the District’s tax base to minimize the risk that the debt millage rate will ever need to be higher than 2.65 mills. Why is the purchase of technology included in this bond proposal? Most of Trenton’s computers and technological hardware has exceeded its five-year life expectancy. Many of our computers cannot run today’s advanced software. And, some of our classrooms can’t use technology because they don’t have enough electrical outlets. It is a challenge to enhance our classroom instruction and graduate students who can compete in the global marketplace without up-to-date equipment and programs. The proposal also includes reworking electrical systems to provide the infrastructure required to operate today’s technology. Updates include additional wiring and expansion of electrical circuits. Does the bond proposal include the construction of new facilities? No. The bond proposal improves existing buildings. No new buildings will be constructed. What projects will be completed through the bond proposal? The purpose of the bond proposal is to address basic needs of Trenton school buildings. It focuses on three major areas: 1) creating healthy schools by renovating school facilities, including upgrades to HVAC systems and replacing roofs, windows, waterlines, and lighting. 2) improving safety and security at all facilities, including improvements to security monitoring systems, controlling access to facilities through designated entries, and updating video surveillance. 3) providing technology, program and equipment updates, including replacement of outdated computers and technology, updating furniture, and providing necessary wiring for technology. Who can vote on the bond proposal? All registered voters who live in the Trenton Public Schools are eligible to vote on the bond proposal. When will the polls be open? Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 pm. on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. What if I am unable to go to the polls on Election Day? Applications to vote by absentee ballot can be obtained from the Trenton City Clerk’s Office. The phone number for this office is 734-675-8600. Where do I vote? Residents will vote at their regular voting precincts. Information may be obtained from the Trenton City Clerk’s office at 734-675-8600. How can I get more information about the bond proposal? More information about the bond proposal is available at the school district website (http://www.trenton.k12.mi.us). You can also call or e-mail Superintendent Dr. John Savel (734/676.8600 — email@example.com).
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