FLINT TWP. — If you’re a Flint Township resident living in the Swartz Creek school district, you’ll be heading to the polls Nov. 6 to decide a 3.9 mill ballot proposal for safety, code compliance, technology and facilities upgrades.
Rodney Hetherton, assistant superintendent of Swartz Creek schools, addressed the West Flint Business Association, Sept. 20, during its monthly meeting. During that presentation, Hetherton talked about the millage proposal and why the district needs the $48 million it will allow officials to borrow.
Hetherton said about 39 percent of the funds will go for safety and security, which will include secure entries at all buildings, cameras, locking devices, fire safety and parking lot safety.
“It’s a different environment these days,” said Hetherton. “We had a packed board meeting after the Parkland Schools shootings (In Florida).”
He said Swartz Creek schools want to install double-entry at each building, so visitors have to enter a door taking them directly into a secure office, where they will have to produce identification before being allowed access to the rest of the building. The proposed improvements will also include electronic locks, camera upgrades and door boots throughout the buildings.
Hetherton said about 27 percent has been earmarked for code compliance and efficiency, including restroom and entrance upgrades, energy efficient windows and lighting, roof repairs, ceilings, improved meeting and storage space and climate controls.
Other projects address district competitiveness. School officials hope to spend about 23 percent on new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) innovation spaces at all schools, computers, wireless technology, furniture and fixtures; and 11 percent on athletic facilities.
If approved, the millage would cost the owner of a home worth $120,000 less than $237 per year for 28 years.
“The range of the tax increase will be $16-25 on average,” said Hetherton. “Investing in the schools is not just investing in us, its investing in the home values in the community.”
And, he points out, as property values rise, the millage – if approved – will not increase.
Although the request specifies 3.9 mils, the average annual millage is expected to be 3.45 mils as property values increase, according to reports.
District voters have not approved a school bond since 1970, said Hetherton.
In 2007, the district proposed two millage questions, asking to raise about $90 million to build a new high school and auditorium, and to expand and improve other facilities. Voters rejected both.
In 2003, the district sought about $60 million for a new high school. That request also failed.
Voters have, however, renewed the sinking fund levy, most recently in 2010 when they approved 1.8059 mils for 20 years. The fund pays for the Performing Arts Center and the Cage Community Center, as well as building maintenance.