Farmington Schools trustees eye $98 million bond vote

Five years after voters approved a successful $131.5 million bond referendum, Farmington Public Schools will likely put a $98 million request for capital funding on the ballot.

During their Tuesday, November 19, 6 p.m. meeting, trustees will consider approving ballot language for a question that would appear on the March 10, 2020, Presidential Primary Ballot.

Officials on Thursday took a look at the proposal, which would address $72.5 million in critical infrastructure needs, $20 million in technology improvements, and $5.5 million in bus replacements. The district’s total millage rate for all debt would drop from 3.3 to 3.2 mills.

Consultant Paul Wills of Plante Moran CRESA said the district has since January looked at the next decade of capital needs. The 10-year plan, he said, “does provide a pathway… It does not provide for any new additions, large expansions, or new facilities.”

The plan lays out $106.7 million in improvements and allows the district to identify critical needs, deferred needs, and enhancements, Wills added.

In previous meetings, trustees looked at both sinking fund and bond options. The $95 million, with 20-year bond series issued in 2020 and 2023, accomplishes a 5-7 year window of improvements, Wills said.

Potential consequences 

Trustee Jessica Cummings asked Superintendent Robert Herrera for clarification about what would happen to the general fund without the bond.

“It’s important to know that if we don’t ask for this, what we would have to do as a board,” she said.

Herrera explained that 85 percent of general fund dollars go into staffing and programs, so “we would certainly have to look at making program reductions and losing staffing, and that directly relates to a loss of services to our kids and our families.”

“We’re hoping that we don’t come to the point where we’d have to make those kinds of decisions,” he added.

Wills said neighboring districts like Novi and Birmingham passed bonds in 2014-15 and are also now going back to voters for more capital dollars. A slide in his presentation showed Farmington Schools has the third lowest millage for capital funding among 13 neighboring school districts.

FPS Capital Funding

After the 2015 projects are completed, the district will also have $3.5 million in remaining bond funds for future work.

View agendas and supporting materials for both the November 14 and November 19 meetings at v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1000199.

You can view video of Thursday’s board meeting at farmington.vod.castus.tv/vod. Board meetings are also typically broadcast live via that link.