An oversight committee monitoring a $131.5 million Farmington Public Schools bond program recently sent a strong message to board trustees about reducing the burden on taxpayers.
In short, Citizens Bond Oversight committee members Fritz Beiermeister, Jerry Ellis, Tom Buck and Pete Muscio believe the district should cut bond spending to $115 million, based on the closures of Highmeadow Common Campus, already off-line, and Harrison High School, shuttered next spring.
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“Please keep in mind, three bond requests were voted on by the community,” the letter states. “Two were voted down. The third one was supported by a committee of community leaders which also formed the Citizen’s Oversight Team to monitor bond spending. In the Citizen’s Oversight Team’s view, to overspend beyond the amount noted above will fail to meet the promise to the community and damage the credibility of Farmington Public Schools.”
The district sold $80 million in bonds to finance the first round of renovations, which included work at Farmington and North Farmington High Schools, Dunckel (Farmington STEAM Academy), East, and Power Middle Schools, and Wood Creek, Lanigan, Longacre, Hillside, Gill, and Forest Elementary Schools. Officials will vote February 27 on bid packages for work at Beechview and Kenbrook Elementary Schools.
In January, trustees looked at several options for early childhood programs, Farmington Community School, Harrison, Highmeadow, and a collection of administrative buildings located west of Raphael between Shiawassee and 10 Mile Roads. In addition to the oversight team recommendation, other options would result in smaller bond reductions – $2.3 million and $3.75 million – or overspend the bond by about $50,000:
In a note accompanying a copy of the letter sent to media, Ellis wrote that the citizens group has only the power to make recommendations and “to keep the citizens advised as to how the funds are being spent.”
“We previously advised the school board of our opinion that they were about to deviate from what was promised to the voters,” he wrote. “It appears as if they are ignoring us.”
School officials will meet in closed session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss privileged communication from legal counsel. Their regular meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Agendas for both are published on the district’s website.
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