By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Allen Park Public Schools voters will go to the polls May 4 and cast their votes for a $74.2 million bond proposal that the district’s board of education recently approved.
The board voted unanimously at its Jan. 25 virtual meeting to approve the special bond election and official ballot language.
During her presentation, Director of Finance Tiffany Keith said there will be no increase in the current tax rate with the debt levy will remaining at 12 mills.
“The reason we are able to do a zero cost bond is because we have refunded our existing debt and we are well ahead of the mandatory payment date of 2039,” she said.
In total, the bond would cover $73.8 million in projects with bonds issued in three series over four years.
The first bond is scheduled for June at $23.18 million, the second in June 2023 also at $23.18 million, and the third in June 2025 for $27.85 million. Keith said not taking the total debt all at once helps with the ability to pay down existing bonds before the next issue.
According to the bond slideshow from November, the $74.2 million includes bond issuance, election costs and interest earnings.
The areas for improvements listed include paving, roofing, building, mechanical systems, lighting upgrades, athletic fields, program improvements, safety and security, technology infrastructure and equipment, furniture and equipment.
Facility findings focused on six areas, site work with a cost rage of $4.9 to $5.1 million, building exterior with a cost range of $5.8 to $6 million, building interior at $5.3 to $5.8 million, mechanical systems at $12.5 million, electrical systems with a cost range of $5 to $7.5 million, and athletics at $6.5 to $7 million.
Under program improvements, STEM improvements will be made at each school level.
This would include $3 million in STEM additions, $1 million at each Arno, Bennie and Lindemann elementary schools.
Renovating the Allen Park Middle School pool to collaboration learning space, STEM, and robotics center will cost $2 to $3 million. At Allen Park High School, renovating the high school weight room to robotics and then building a new fitness center will cost $3.5 to $4.5 million.
As for technology and security, there are plans to expand video surveillance, access control, replace PA systems, a new phone system, replacing projectors with interactive disc players, adding technology lockers for charging and replacing classroom sound systems.
Upgrades for furniture and equipment include replacing classroom furniture and purchasing STEM equipment, medical center furniture, band instruments, science equipment, and science equipment.
According to the bond slideshow, facilities within the district were toured in June and July before project worklists were developed and a bond work session was held in October.
Presentations were also made in October and November.
Board Trustee Stephen Martin said taxes would not go down if the proposed bond fails.
“Immediately the answer is no because the existing bond, the $43.7 million that Tiffany mentioned doesn’t expire until 2032,” he said at the Jan. 25 board meeting. “So, at that point you’ve still got 12 years of taxes staying where they are at. So, a no vote does not reduce your taxes, I just wanted to share that because that was posed to me.”
Supt. Michael Darga said the board would continue to receive updates through him throughout the bond process and information would be presented, especially on big ticket items.
School district residents last approved two bond proposals totaling $75 million in 2002. Next steps for the 2021 bond is an informational campaign from March to May followed by an election.
The community can access detailed information and presentations on the bond proposal on the district’s website, www.allenparkschools.com.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])