By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — A proposal from Dearborn Public Schools will ask voters for a six-year, 4.82-mill renewal on the Nov. 5 ballot, generating $240 million for the district.
Money generated from the bond will go toward work on buildings, renovations, infrastructure, capacity, and safety, or BRICS, as the district labeled the bond.
If the current 4.82 millage rate is renewed, work in the district would begin as early as next spring. The first series of bonds will total $86 million in the first three years and $154 million in years four through six.
During a Sept. 26 BRICS Bond Virtual Forum, Communications Director David Mustonen spoke about the millage rate that residents will have to pay.
“The ballot proposal people will see on Nov. 5 — it’s the only thing on the ballot — it does not increase the current millage rate,” he said. “The total amount of funds that this bond will generate is about $240 million and it will be in two series.
“Now that’s a lot of money, and when you have a large amount of money and you have a variety of projects going on at every single school it’s important that money is going to able to be spent all at once. So, that’s done in phases like this so we can best utilize those dollars.”
In total, $194 million will be used for boilers, pumps, controls, restorers, roofing, exterior doors and windows, interior and exterior lighting, paving for parking lots and sidewalks, flooring and ceilings and buses.
Another $14 million will be for technology infrastructure, and $21 million for capacity issues including additions at select elementary buildings and construction of special education classrooms.
Under capacity, the district is also looking at acquiring two buildings on the Henry Ford College campus to accommodate the expanding Early College programs and the growing Adult Education program.
“The Early College programs also help relieve overcrowding at the traditional high schools,” a district press release said. “Moving Adult Education out of the Dearborn Heights Campus is part of a plan to add more space to the Michael Berry Career Center. Those career programs also help relieve crowding” at Dearborn High, Edsel Ford and Fordson high schools.
For security, $12 million is planned for secured vestibules and cameras at all schools along with $580,000 for air conditioning in special education rooms and limited select gathering spaces.
Currently, the district has 34 total buildings with an average age of 65 years. There are 12 building over 90 years old, 12 between 60 to 75 years old, six between 20 to 59 years old and 4 under 20 years old.
Mustonen also said there has always been a commitment by the DPS to preserve the buildings and make an investment in the district’s buildings.
“Also going through the archives we found some of these old brochures and photos from the 1940s and 1950s just showing that there’s always been that commitment here in Dearborn to maintain our buildings, protect that investment of our tax payers,” he said.
“Really, that’s who owns these buildings, it’s not us, not the school board it’s the residents of Dearborn who own these buildings. We’re gotten a lot of years out of these buildings, they have a lot of life left in them, they just need some tender loving care.”
Discussion regarding the bond two years ago when the issue of overcrowding at two of the high schools was brought to the forefront, led to the creation of a Citizens Infrastructure Task Force that presented its findings to the board of education last October.
During a July 22 DPS board meeting Executive Director of Business & Operations Thomas Wall said the bond will not increase taxes on residents.
The District Strategic Bond Steering Committee looked at all revenue sources to decide how to fund the over $500 million needed for projects across the district.
The committee’s four prioritized areas are infrastructure, meeting current and future capacity needs, campus safety and equity, and to continue increasing the number of air conditioned facilities or other priorities identified by the board.
The district scheduled 27 several informational meetings throughout the district to ensure voters are education on the bond and can ask any questions they may have.
For more information on the bond go to iblog.dearbornschools.org/bond/
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])