Series bond on Tuesday ballot for SJ schools

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — A series bond that would raise more than $8 million over 12 years for St. Joseph Public Schools will be on the ballot for Tuesday’s election.

School officials said money raised from the sale of bonds would be used to support upgrades in technology, security, transportation and building improvements across the district.

Superintendent Ann Cardon said the series bond is affordable and will keep the district in good shape to remain among the top schools in Southwest Michigan.

The ballot language for the series bond was adopted by the board during a Feb. 8 board meeting. The estimated millage that would be levied for the proposed bond in 2016 is 0.35 mills, or 35 cents, for each $1,000 of taxable property value.

A home assessed at $100,000 – valued at $200,000 – would cost the homeowner $35 per year.

Should the proposal pass, the district would be issued $2.45 million in 2016, $3.05 million in 2020 and $2.89 million in 2024. The total amount raised by the bond sale over the 12 years would not exceed $8.4 million.

Cardon said the bond would help “sustain the district until 2030.”

“We believe this is a well-thought-out plan that is going to benefit our district,” Cardon said Friday. “Some of those purchases that will come from the series bond will still be in use by 2030. In an age where a school budget fluctuates from year to year, this is unheard of.”

The series bond isn’t like a traditional bond when considering the payment process. Because the bond is being done in three series, each series would just about be paid off before the next series is levied.

The district passed a $38 million, 25-year bond issue in May 2010, which led to the renovation of several school buildings, improved security and an updated technology infrastructure.

Cardon said school officials have been working on the bond since last spring. Since the bond was announced in February, Cardon said they have been reaching out to multiple organizations to answer questions and get feedback.

“We’ve been mobilizing folks and meeting with parent organizations, athletic extracurricular groups, Rotary, Lions, township supervisors and others to get the message out,” Cardon said. “As a reference, we have a pretty in-depth posting on the front of our website.”

Residents in the Lincoln Township, Royalton Township, St. Joseph and St. Joseph Township precincts are eligible to vote on the series bond Tuesday.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 30, 2016)

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