Voters in the Kalamazoo Public School district will vote on a $62-million bond proposal on May 7th. It would pay for various improvements at several buildings in the district.
Projects include replacing the north portion of Milwood Elementary School, relocating the transportation center, and a second gymnasium at Kalamazoo Central High School. Information from the district's website can be found here. There is no organized opposition. WMUK's Gordon Evans spoke with Kalamazoo Schools Superintendent Michael Rice.
Rice says before a bond issue goes on the ballot, the district’s architect does a facilities’ analysis. Then a citizens’ bond committee is convened, made up of about three-dozen people in the district. They look over the list, and recommend projects to the administration and to the board that they believe are the most pressing.
Rice says the bond committee and the school board factored in the struggles of the economy in Michigan. A survey of citizens done by the district in November showed 69% would support a half-mill increase, 59% would support a one-mill increase. The district is asking for .7-mills in between those numbers. The owner of a home worth $100,000 would pay an additional $35 a year. Rice says not all districts do a survey before asking for a bond proposal. He says the Kalamazoo district believes in surveying and largely keeping with those results in what they ask for.
When asked about the importance of facilities in the process of education, Rice says they are part of protecting an investment. He says if repairs are not done in a timely fashion, it can lead to health and safety issues or having to pay for more extensive repairs in the future.
“You try to create facilities that aren’t fancy, but also that are reasonable for students and staff to be able do the business of teaching and learning.”
Rice says if the bond proposal is approved it continues what the district has, which is schools that are older, but are in good repair. He says this bond issue continues the history of the Kalamazoo district taking of buildings for students and staff.