By Scott Sullivan
Saugatuck Public Schools this week issued updated financial facts related to the district’s May 7 request for a $39.94-million bond to remodel and improve district facilities.
Funds generated, said superintendent Tim Travis, “would renovate, refresh and reimagine our schools.
“The attached financial fact sheet (visit saugatuckpublicschools.com) illustrates the proposed changes in the debt millage levy necessary to generate the funds for these improvements, a property tax chart showing the estimated increased cost per year to homeowners and businesses, and a breakdown of proposed project costs by building.
“Renovation costs for new mechanical systems, HVAC systems, electrical systems, roofing, doors and windows are included in the cost estimates for each project category,” Travis went on.
“Please learn more by visiting our district website, by attending one of two additional community forums scheduled for Monday, April 22, at 10 a.m. in the high school cafeteria or Wednesday, April 24, in Douglas Elementary School at 6 p.m., or by calling me at (269) 857-1444,” Travis said.
The SPS board, having seen $50.7 million request turned down May 8 last year, Jan. 14 OK’d a roughly 21-percent fiscally scaled-down version.
Last year’s request, deemed too ambitious by most opponents, fell 1,005 no votes to 719 yes. Voters did approve extending the schools’ 0.5-mill sinking fund levy for five years 968 to 779.
Major changes from last year’s bond proposal include scrapping the idea for a second-story design at Saugatuck Middle-High School and more emphasis on increasing classroom sizes at Douglas Elementary.
Many ideas from the 2018 request remain. Besides safety and security upgrades (secure entrances, improved pick-up/drop-off circulation and building cameras), funds from this spring’s request would provide new buses plus plumbing, heating, electrical, ventilation, roofing and paving updates.
District officials also envision social and physical spaces in line with current educational architecture. The result, they say, will be better daylight and outside views, more outdoor learning spaces and modifying hallways into collaborative learning spaces.
Funds would also create a new middle/high school band suite, dedicated middle school art room, new science lab area and spaces for new technology and robotics.
If the bond is approved, the district property owners’ taxes are expected to rise by about 1.36 mills over the 2018 debt tax rate. This equals approximately $5.67 per month for every $100,000 market value home.
District officials noted SPS currently levies the lowest debt tax rate in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and neighboring districts. Should the bond be approved, the local schools would remain among those in the area with the lowest debt rates.