By Jim Newell
Review Staff Writer
Lake Orion Community Schools Superintendent Marion Ginopolis is both grateful to the community for approving the fund request and optimistic about how it can enhance the district in the years ahead.
“This community really came together to support the schools and take care of significant and urgent problems,” Ginopolis said. “We’re just really, really grateful to the community, and our teachers and staff for their support as well.”
Voters passed a building and sinking fund tax proposal last Tuesday with a 57 percent favorable vote. The tax lasts for the next ten years, and will cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $200 per year.
Residents can expect to see the levy on their tax bills in December, and the bulk of the money will come to the district Feb. 17, with planning beginning in about a month and projects possibly beginning next spring.
The 2 mill sinking fund will generate approximately $3.5 million annually for ten years and provide a dedicated source of funding is for long-term facility repairs, renovations and replacement projects.
Presently money for repairs and maintenance comes from the district’s general fund budget, however Ginopolis said, adding that when you make improvements to the buildings and facilities “you’ve created an environment that’s conducive to learning.”
John Fitzgerald, assistant superintendent for business and finance, said the published report is the “game plan” right now, but necessity could compel the district to deal with unexpected issues.
“Practically speaking, it allows us to be more efficient,” Fitzgerald said, adding without the sinking fund the district would have to dip into their operating budget to deal with issues that arise. “We now know going forward that we don’t have to cut into our current budget.”
He added that the sinking fund allows the district to “Plan for long-term, smart care of the facilities.”
“There is often the question, ‘Are you going to do what you said you were going to do?’” Ginopolis said. “We’re audited by the state and our auditors.”
“We do plan to follow the project schedule that’s online,” Ginopolis said. “We’re wide open here. We don’t hide a thing in this district as long as I’m here.”
Ginopolis said that the building and site sinking fund will also allow the district to build up its fund balance. The current fund balance is about 7.5 percent, but the district, and the district’s auditors, recommend keeping a fund balance of 10 percent of the annual operating budget.
“We’ve made some dramatic cuts this year” to reduce some operating costs, she said.
The types of facility renovation and repair projects include boiler and chiller replacement, roof repairs, restroom upgrades, parking lot and sidewalk repairs, carpeting and floor tile replacement, lighting system upgrades, energy management system updates, network infrastructure improvements, eligible security system upgrades, window and door replacement, according to the district website.
The board of education meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the administration building, 315 N. Lapeer St. Meeting dates and agendas and a proposed building and site sinking fund project list are posted online at www.lakeorion.k12.mi.us.
By Jim Newell