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Sinking Fund And School Safety - EP3

The Hornet Hive Podcast

Release Date: 08/12/2018

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More Episodes

The Board of Education is currently considering a proposal to allow voters to amend the District’s existing Sinking Fund. The proposal would not result in a tax increase, it would only replace and extend our current Sinking Fund so that it can also be utilized for school safety enhancements. This is a concept I proposed to the Board after receiving numerous articles of correspondence and phone calls from parents, community members, and staff over the last several weeks regarding the safety of our schools. It also comes as a result of listening to student questions and concerns and feedback from security experts who have conducted inspections of our schools.

As I have mentioned many times, our existing Sinking Fund has been an invaluable financial asset. WCS has traditionally invested a much higher than typical percentage of our state foundation allowance in the classroom. This has resulted in WCS being recognized by the Department of Education as one of the best fiscally managed districts in Michigan.

Over time, however, our dedication to investing in the classroom came at the expense of supporting infrastructure and facilities. The current Sinking Fund has effectively filled this void by allowing for emergency repairs as well as much needed facility upgrades to roofs, boilers, air conditioning systems, doors, and other similar items, without having to divert resources from academic programs. Learn more about what has been accomplished thus far here.

When our original Sinking Fund was passed, the only legally eligible expenditures were for facilities repairs or upgrades. In 2016, the law was changed so that schools could use Sinking Fund dollars for safety enhancements. In order to do this, voters must approve via a new ballot proposal. If approved by the Board, the revised Sinking Fund proposal would be on the August 7, 2018 ballot. Read the proposed ballot language currently under consideration by the Board of Education here.

Should this proposal pass, the current 1 mil Sinking Fund will become eligible to be utilized for safety enhancements throughout the District. We have partnered with a variety of law enforcement, security, and emergency managers to conduct vulnerability assessments of our buildings. The revised Sinking Fund will allow WCS to address those needs while continuing to simultaneously repair facility deficiencies. It cannot be utilized for employee salaries, benefits, or other operational costs. All Sinking Fund expenditures are audited to ensure transparency. If the proposal is not adopted or does not pass, the current Sinking Fund stays in effect, but could not be used to address security or safety vulnerabilities.

I’ve been asked, as a Superintendent, what keeps me up at night. The safety of our students is the answer to that question. In order to ensure you have accurate information on how the current Sinking Fund can be amended to include safety enhancements to our schools, please do not hesitate to contact me. While I cannot advocate for how to vote, I want to make sure accurate information is available so that an informed decision can be made by our community.