Pass or fail, today's vote will mark the beginning of a new era in history. Here's a last-minute primer for those heading to the polls.
For previous coverage, visit the Bloomfield Hills Schools High School Consolidation Millage Topic Page.
How much will it cost? And will taxes increase?
The district plan calls for roughly $79 million to merge the high schools under one roof. Voters are being asked to approve $58.6 million in bonds (1.16 mills) to make it happen.
The owner of a home with a taxable value of $250,000 is expected to pay $290 annually; and the owner of a home with a taxable value of $150,000 is expected to pay $174 annually.
The district's existing bond debt, however, is set to decrease in 2014 due to a reduction in Sinking Fund millages approved by voters in 2010. Residents that currently pay nearly 2.5 mills in school taxes will see that number dip below 2 mills starting in 2014, even if this bond passes, barring any other future funding requests.
How will the students benefit?
The district's plan expands common learning spaces and should end the need for busing students between buildings. It also calls for:
- Improved technology
- a larger auditorium
- a larger swimming pool
- a larger gym
If it fails?
Even if the measure fails, Bloomfield Hills High School is slated to open in the fall of 2013 on the current Andover and Lahser campuses. Ninth graders and Model High School students would relocate to the Lahser site, and 10th-12th graders would be housed at the Andover site. Shuttling students to fill special class offerings and programs would continue.
The district indicates that roughly $30-35 million would be needed to renovate both school buildings to bring them to code and accommodate the changes proposed.
Is there value in the plan?
This proposal is less than the $73 million and $121 in bond requests floated by the district in 2010 and 2007 respectively. Unlike those proposals, it is also designed as a hybrid; calling for roughly 36 percent of the current Andover facility will be repurposed, and 64 percent new construction.
The district has committed $20 million on hand toward the construction of a unified high school, and projects the move could save $2.4 million annually. The district would be able to save $1 million annually with a merged high school on both existing campuses. However, officials said with budget deficits projected in the near future, programs will be reduced faster and deeper to achieve additional savings.
Will this end the community divide?
Superintendent Rob Glass insists this is it. After two previous failures at the polls (2010 and 2007) he said he will take the mandate voters hand back today and deliver one of two plans he and district staff have been working on for well over a year.
Certain bridges have been built and there have been a number of that believe this proposal is worthy of their vote. However, given the 'A' or 'B' options,
That may prove to be a difficult gap to narrow as Bloomfield Hills High School takes shape on either one, or two campuses in the fall of 2013.