Vote ‘No’ on the LOCS Bond

Let me assure Superintendent Marion Ginopolis that as a chemist and businessman, my mathematics skills are advanced and exceptional.

She is entitled to have her opinion about the value of the Bond projects. Likewise, I am entitled to my opinion and it is that the $51.5 million planned for a new elementary school, tearing down Blanche Sims, building a new preschool education facility and tearing down part of CERC are a waste of money. The District has no business building new classrooms until our resident student population stops declining and the possible need to close additional schools goes away.

In the 2009-2010 school year, the District had 7,729 total students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2018-2019 we have 6,656 resident students. This is a decline of 1,073 resident students over 10 years, or 13.9 percent. The declining population trend continues. Last year we had 6,721 resident students, so we lost an additional 65 resident students coming into the new school year.

As I stated in my previous letter to the editor, it is “absurd” to invest millions ($51.5) of taxpayer dollars in new classrooms when there is a real possibility we will need to close an additional elementary and middle school within a few years.

Perhaps an equity market parallel would help illustrate the point. General Electric had a market cap of $402 billion in 2001 under Jack Welch as CEO. Under Jeff Immelt the cap slid to $222 billion. Under John Flannery it slid to $98 billion. The trend is clear, GE’s market value has lost $304 billion (76 percent) since 2001. Why dump good money into this company until there is solid evidence of a turnaround?

The parallel only goes so far. We must maintain our existing education facilities and provide state of the art capabilities for our students, but we should not commit to major construction investments without a plan for the whole District in place.

Several of our schools are old. Blanche Sims is just the oldest. The logic for replacing Blanche Sims applies just as well to the other old schools so the community needs to figure out how we are going to address this problem.

I suggest that we convene another committee of concerned citizens to develop a plan – just like we did for closing one elementary school.

We need to vote this bond issue down, eliminate these three ill-conceived projects, and bring another request to the voters for the security, technology and improvement projects that are really needed. I will support a bond that excludes building un-needed new classrooms.

It does not take a mathematician to know that the proposed expenditure does not add up.

Bill Holt

Lake Orion

 

3 Responses to "Vote ‘No’ on the LOCS Bond"

  1. Abigail Rennels   October 11, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    I’m not sure what surprises me the most about this letter. The fact that you are comparing the school district to a multinational conglomerate company or that you appear to be getting more print time than Don Rush. As to the former; GE? I can pull a company out of a hat as well. How about Google? They have spent a tremendous amount of money on their infrastructure, employees, and buildings. And it’s made them even more money.
    Blanche Sims’ building is decaying. It is old and it is time to have an elementary school in that location that lives up to what a great school district we have in Lake Orion. If I thought that the future of LOCS was cramming even more kids into every classroom, my husband and I would have moved our family somewhere else.
    I will be voting “yes”.

    Reply
  2. Ken   October 17, 2018 at 10:22 am

    The information about the declining school population is interesting and should be considered. I think each of the individual proposals need to be evaluated separately. Asking for residents to view this as an all-or-nothing proposal is not fair to the residents. And I understand there would be in impact to taxes. Based on other information in another article the taxes would go up based on additional interest that will be paid each year. If this is not correct, please show the numbers so we can all see them. Please don’t repeat a generic statement that taxes won’t go up.

    Reply
  3. Jake Singer   October 18, 2018 at 9:05 am

    The information about the declining school population is accurate, yet misleading. The overall student population of LOCS has declined, but that is because the higher birth rate years experienced in the 1990’s and early 2000’s are aging out of the district. New enrollment from incoming kindergarten students has stabilized and Oakland County birth rates predict it will creep up in the next few years. The lower birth rates experienced since the Great Recession has already been addressed by LOCS when an elementary school was closed following the 2016-17 school year. The remaining six elementary buildings are running at about 90% of capacity this year, so there are issues with current student enrollment and operational efficiencies. All of this information is publicly available in the Department of Treasury Application which is posted on the LOCS website at locsbond.org. If there are further questions, contact LOCS at communications@lok12.org.

    This bond proposal does not include a “new” school. It includes a “replacement” school, which will not increase capacity at the elementary level. The current Blanche Sims elementary is a facility that is not at the same functional level as the other five elementary buildings in LOCS. The residents in the northeast portion of the district deserve a building with modern learning spaces that allow the teachers flexibility to deliver the curriculum in the best ways possible.

    The tax rate will not increase from 7.491 mills because of additional interest that will be paid each year. All of that is part of the formulas that the Michigan Department of Treasury evaluated before allowing LOCS to propose the bonds. LOCS currently brings in over $14 million per year via the debt service millage. With projected market value growth, that number will increase to over $20 million in the next ten years. Even if property values drop precipitously again, there is a five year cushion built in at the end of the bond from the projected payoff in 2040 to the legally required payoff in 2045, such that annual millage rates still would not have to go up.

    Reply

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