Remember To Vote November 2!Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the November 2, 2010 School Millage Request
1. I was not aware of what the millage is for. Why is the school asking for a millage increase?
Answer: The millage will pay for three separate things. All are related to helping keep a quality program for St. Ignace Area students. Those three things are:
· To pay for the cost of replacing all of our 8 busses over the next 10 years. Our oldest bus was new in 1997. Three of our busses have 200,000 or more miles.
· To pay for the cost of upgrading to 21st Century Technology. This will include infrastructure in all classrooms and will include a variety of student and staff hardware such as computers, smart boards, projectors, document cameras, sound enhancement and more. The district has a 5 year technology plan. Students have quicker access to more data and information than at any time in history. Teachers and students need the 21st century tools to access and use the information efficiently.
· To reduce the costs associated with heating our schools. A new “green” woody biomass heat system will reduce the fuel costs to heat the school by $80,000 a year. The savings will be plowed back into student programs.
This request is a way for local voters to help ensure that quality educational opportunities do not further diminish for our children.
2. Why a new wood heat system? I thought our current one was in good shape.
· Answer: It’s about spending less money on fuel and more money on students. The current heating system is in good shape and will still be used as a backup. A new “green” wood biomass heat system will reduce the costs of fuel by $80,000. That savings in fuel costs will be generated every year and will be used for athletics, music and the arts. With the savings generated by the new “green” wood biomass heat system the district will target an additional $40,000 per year toward the athletic program to prevent students having to “Pay to Play” and will target $40,000 a year towards music and the arts.
· Wood energy is locally available. Additional local jobs will be created in both the harvesting and the delivery.
· Wood is a renewable source. Fossil fuels are a limited resource. The price of wood fuel has, and will continue to be, much more stable than fossil fuel. Fossil fuel prices have climbed at a much higher rate than wood.
· The technology that is integrated into this woody biomass heating system allows for a high temperature/clean burn that is green, clean and environmentally friendly.
· It is a proven system that has saved many hundred thousands of dollars in other U.P. districts and across the New England region. The VA Hospital in Canandaigua New York is spending $15 million to install this system that they estimate will save nearly 1 million per year in heating cost.
· The reason this is a viable project for us is because of our location. It might not make sense if we were located in the Iowa Corn Belt. But in the heavily forested U.P. we have a vast supply of wood that is locally available and will not run out if managed properly.
· Whitefish Township Schools in Paradise, North Central School in Powers, North Dickenson County Schools, Calumet Area Schools and Mid Peninsula Area Schools have all been using this type of a heating system for the past 25-30 years; all with great success and many hundreds of thousands of dollars saved.
· A direct quote from the Superintendent Darryl Pierce in Calumet: “There is no question that our boiler has saved an enormous amount of money over the years since we installed it in 1990. When companies call to do an energy audit, once they find out that we have the wood chip boiler they turn around and walk out because they know that they can’t save us anything on heating our facilities.”
· It makes sense to spend more of our money on student programs and less on heating fuel.
3. With the EUP ISD’s Federal Grant supplying area schools with laptop computers for students in grades 7-12 why do we need more money for technology?
Answer: The ISD’s grant is a great starting place for our school, however a laptop computer for all grade 7-12 students is only a part of the technology needs facing our schools. There is considerable classroom infrastructure work that needs to be done to make it possible for today’s technology to be fully utilized. Our 5-year technology plan that was developed three years ago called for all students in grades 5-12 to have a laptop computer. The reality is that the need is there for all students to have access. The ISD grant coupled with passage of our request will allow us to place a greater focus on elementary technology needs. This will help us as we need to replace worn out and obsolete technology. Passage of this request will help put our students at the front of today’s ever changing technology/communication revolution.
4. What about reinstating elementary gym and art? What about the art program at the high school?
· Answer: Passing this millage makes it more likely the district would be in position to reinstate programs that have been reduced or eliminated. Not passing the millage makes it an almost certainty that those programs will not be reinstated.
5. Will employees be taking a pay freeze as the support staff did? Will the teachers be taking a freeze?
· Answer: This year, as a part of negotiations, both the administration and the support staff took a pay freeze. The teaching staff is in the middle of a 4-year contract. Their contract does not come up for negotiation for two more years.
6. Is there a priority list for adding back programs?
· Answer: Bussing and technology are both priority items. The district brings students in from a 300 square mile area. Technological advances have altered the way everyone does business. Massive amounts of information are now just a click away with the right technology. Both bussing and technology are critical to maintaining a viable and quality program. Passing this millage will ensure that money is not taken from student programs to pay for either of these priorities. Passing the millage will free up $80,000 a year in money that was going to pay for heat, that instead will be able to be targeted toward student programs
- What cuts will occur if the millage fails?
· Answer: The board has not yet addressed that question. As noted above, both bussing and technology are priorities. If the millage does not pass it will take money from the general operating fund to pay for these items. That, in turn, will reduce student opportunities. Without additional fuel savings generated by the new “green” wood heat system the athletic program will likely become a “Pay to Play” program and rather than reinstituting programs the board would likely be looking at further reductions.
- If this millage request is approved how much will it cost the voter?
· Answer: A home valued at $100,000 is assessed for tax purposes at $50,000
· .72 mills on $50,000= $36 per year
$36 per year = 70 cents per week = Less than the following:
-One bottle of water a week
-One candy bar a week
-One cup of coffee a week
-One soda a week
You say the increase will be .72 mills a year increase. The wording on the ballot says that too, but it also says that the average increase will be 2.15 mills over 11 years. Please explain. What is the real increase?
· The real increase is .72 mills more than you are currently paying. You will pay that increased amount for 11 years. We currently have debt of 4.4 mills to pay off the middle and elementary school construction bonds. Bond projections show that millage debt to pay off the middle and elementary construction will decrease in the next several years. As the millage required to pay off the construction on the middle and elementary school is reduced additional millage will be applied to pay off the energy, technology and transportation bonds. It is similar in concept to an individual that is paying off two loans; when the first is paid off more can be paid off on the second in order to pay off the entire debt quicker. A complete analysis of the debt repayment is shown:
Note: The total increase does not go above .72 mills more than the voter is currently paying- and all bonded indebtedness will be paid off in 11 years.Please click this link to see the analysis of the debt repayment.The entire question and answer document will be presented along with an 11-year outlook. Please scroll all the way to the end of the document to view the analysis.