As Farmington Schools bond work ends, officials consider sinking fund

As the 2015 Farmington Public Schools bond program draws to a close, officials are getting more information about asking voters to approve a “sinking fund” millage for future capital and technology needs.

Consultant Paul Wills of Plante Moran CRESA told trustees during Tuesday’s board meeting that three of four bond phases are complete. Work during the 2019-2020 school year will include a 10-classroom addition at Alameda Early Childhood Center, to accommodate moving all preschool programs to that building.

Alameda Early Education Center
Structural steel is up for the Alameda Early Education Center 10-classroom addition. (Farmington Public Schools)

Wills said $12 million of work was completed over the summer, including:

  • work on the Alameda site and expansion (August 2020 completion),
  • gym renovations at Lanigan Elementary,
  • $6.5 million in renovations, including media center and gymnasium, at Warner Middle School,
  • auditorium, dance studio, locker room, and media center renovations at North Farmington High, and
  • renovated classrooms and a new roof at Farmington Central High (former Highmeadow Common Campus).
North Farmington Dance Studio
The North Farmington Dance Studio has been renovated to accommodate the district’s dance program. (Farmington Public School)

Next year, nearly $6 million of work will be done on Farmington Community School, the Maxfield Education Center on 10 Mile Road, administration, and transportation facilities, Wills said.

The $131.5 million bond was split into two series, issued in 2015 and 2018. “The good news is because of working the cash flows and investment schedules, we were able to generate another $2 million in interest income,” Wills said.

Farmington Central classroom
Classrooms were renovated at Farmington Central High. (Farmington Public Schools)

Trustee Terri Weems pointed out the challenges at Alameda with not only building but “streetscape” type renovations.

“What spoke volumes to me was the community around Alameda rallying around that school,” she said. “They’re just so excited about the development that’s going on over there… There’s a new sense of pride.”

Wills said information about a potential 2020 sinking fund millage election would be presented in October to the board’s Building and Site committee and to the full board.

With a voter-approved sinking fund, districts may levy up to 3 mills each year, for up to 10 years, with funds placed into a separate account for immediate building, safety/security, and technology needs. The fund provides an alternative to borrowing or bonding.

North Farmington Auditorium
The North Farmington Auditorium has been renovated. (Farmington Public Schools)

“You will see a lot of districts go out (for bonds or millages) in March, with the presidential primary,” Wills said, adding it’s a “free” election, in that the district would not have to cover costs.

Officials would have to adopt a resolution in November to place a sinking fund millage proposal on the March 10, 2020 ballot.