Edited: 1:55 p.m., Dec. 17 to remove information regarding building and site sinking fund
The West Bloomfield School District administration could be faced with difficult decisions regarding the value of making improvements to buildings versus continuing general fund expenditures at an acceptable rate in coming years, according to Superintendent Gerald Hill.
Hill said that the failure of the West Bloomfield Schools' building and site sinking fund millage proposal at the polls Tuesday could be a result of voters having never seen the measure discussed in the media or at community events. The 1.5-mill levy proposal ($1.50 per $1,000 of taxable valuation) would have reportedly generated an estimated $2.4 million annually for the district to use primarily on upgrades or repairs.
"It puts us in a less-proactive position where we don't have the resources ... for sinking fund projects," said Hill, currently in his first year on the job. "We want to continue to fund the highest quality of education."
The measure failed with 7,763 "no" votes, or 52.78 percent of the vote. A total of 6,944 "yes" votes accounted for 47.22 percent.
"When you look at the results precinct by precinct, we can see precincts where there are greater (school district) parent populations and more informed parent populations and the results are favorable," Hill said. "We need to do a better job of reaching out to the general population and explaining what high quality schools do for the community at large."
A closer look at results indicates a strong showing of opposition in Orchard Lake (65.95 percent), Keego Harbor (56.56 percent), West Bloomfield precinct five (59.18 percent), and West Bloomfield precinct four (59.71 percent).
"I think there could be a lot of projects that would be deferred, delayed, with the potential of those projects becoming more expensive as they become more urgent," Hill added.
At the Board of Education meeting May 25, Assistant Superintendent Thomas Goulding said that funds received through the millage levy would eliminate the aspect of borrowing, which follows bond issues. Bond dollars cannot be used to make repairs, Goulding said; however, they can be used for full-blown replacements.
Hill said the board could be asked at an upcoming meeting to consider a future ballot proposal. On May 25, Trustee David Einstandig said that if the proposal failed as it did, another could be placed before voters.
Trustee Matt Chase was the lone "no" vote in May to put the proposal before voters. He questioned the will of the community to vote for the millage given past purchases of bonds, including the 2009 bond proposal, which passed by a 2-to-1 margin in the May election.
"I just see that as a tough sell to say, 'You already have bond dollars, why do you need more?'" Chase said.
In September, the board voted to close Ealy Elementary School at the end of the school year, as well as to consider the future closures of the Administrative and Community Services building and Roosevelt Elementary School.
Follow the conversation about this issue on Facebook at facebook.com/WBloomfldPatch.