UPDATE: Farmington Schools Bond Defeated, but 'We're Not Done'

Superintendent Sue Zurvalec says the district will start working on evaluating the defeat and preparing for another bond referendum.

Farmington Schools Supt. Sue Zurvalec talks to supporters as it becomes clear a $222 million bond referendum has been defeated. Video credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
Farmington Schools Supt. Sue Zurvalec talks to supporters as it becomes clear a $222 million bond referendum has been defeated. Video credit: Joni Hubred-Golden

See how your neighborhood voted: 2013 Farmington School Bond Results by Precinct

Farmington School Board chair Howard Wallach said he was "disappointed" by the failure of the district's bond referendum. 

"We put a lot of time and effort into studying the issues ... and getting recommendations from a wide cross-section of the community," he said. "We felt this was best for our kids, and that it would make them competitive in school and make our community attractive to come to." 

"We have to respect what the voters said," he added, noting officials will do an analysis of the results. 

Wallach believes a negative campaign that produced a large postcard mailing and automated calls may have impacted some voters. "We live in a soundbite world today," he said, "and big postcards can make an impression, even if the information is not correct." 

9:13 p.m. 
"I think the next time around, it will pass," Advocates for Excellence co-chair Erica Reaves said. "I can sleep tonight. We played a clean campaign." 

She mentioned an automated call that went out to voters just before the election that claimed the district wanted "half a billion dollars". She said she believes people will eventually come to regret that they did not vote yes, when the first list serv goes out about a school closing due to a building issue. 

"Whether it's a year or two years from now, people will look back and say, 'Wow, we should have passed that bond," she said. 

8:50 p.m.
In a gathering at the district's Ten Mile Building, Superintendent Sue Zuravlec told supporters of the $222 million bond referendum that, while the final vote hadn't been counted, the writing was on the wall. 

The referendum appeared headed for defeat, with 26 of 27 precincts reporting. But Zurvalec said, "We're not done." She told supporters that after a previous $100 million bond issue defeat in 1997, the district conducted focus groups with "no" voters and worked to regain their support. 

She urged volunteers and staff who campaigned for the bond to celebrate their hard work. 

8:44 p.m.
Twitter note from Eric Lindquist, who was at Dunckel Middle School at 7:50 p.m. "374 ballots cast in Precinct 9! Must have picked up in the afternoon." Vote tally with all but one precinct reporting: 6856 yes, 7898 no. 

8:30 p.m.
 Oakland County's new system of uploading election results appears to be working without a hitch tonight. With 23 of 27 precincts reporting, the current count is 6709 in favor of the bond, and 7404 opposed. 

12:30 p.m.
Early morning traffic seemed light in Tuesday's election, with a half-dozen polling places in Farmington and Farmington Hills reporting fewer than 100 walk-in votes cast. 

City clerks on Friday said that more than 6,000 absent voter (AV) ballots had been returned. In Farmington Hills, workers at city hall are processing AV ballots. In Farmington, election workers tallying AV ballots at the polls report seeing more of those than walk-in voters.

At Farmington High School, where Precinct 3 and 4 voters cast their ballots, nearly 270 of the 332 ballots processed by around 10 a.m. were from absent voters. Election workers said the turnout was steady after the polling place opened at 7 a.m.

Farmington Precinct 6 workers, at Our Lady of Sorrows parish, reported only three people were waiting in line at 7 a.m. Their turnout at around 10 a.m. was just 26 walk-in voters and 189 absent voter ballots. 

Poll worker Walter Girbach, who has been working elections since 1998, predicted about a 25 percent voter turnout for Precinct 2, at The Crossing Church in Farmington. Shortly after 10 a.m., 136 ballots had been cast, with another 120 absent voter ballots left to be counted. 

"It's been heavier than I would have thought. I think we're going to hit 25 percent (voter turnout)," he said. "I might be a little optimistic."


This is it, Farmington school district residents! You decide whether to authorize $222 million in bonds to finance improvements to K-12 buildings, technology upgrades and high school athletic field replacements.

Patch will be covering this election throughout the day, right up until the final local votes are reported.

We've published Election Day information in Need To Know: Tuesday's Farmington Public Schools Bond Election, and you can check our Schools and Government sections for more election coverage. 
Trisha Balazovic August 20, 2013 at 05:53 PM
At Sharon, I absolutely agree we need to improve our educational deficiencies. There is a lot of work to be done. The unfortunate thing is that for some reason so many of you don't understand that these things go hand in hand.
Sue Burstein August 20, 2013 at 06:29 PM
OMG Trisha...the last thin;g I want, or even asked is for you to go away. Perhaps, that is the biggest difference we have. I actually believe that you have an opinion that should be voiced. I actually believe that this great country was founded on coming to some kind of middle ground in areas where we may have difference. I believe that in my recent post, I stated I WOULD SUPPORT a bond issue, and a fairly significant one at that. However, you and your cohorts do not appear to believe that middle ground counts. It's all or nothing. And what you may end up with in the end is nothing. And I agree with you, that would be most unfortunate for the kids. I get fighting for the kids. I have done that for the past 15 -20 years. I fought for our kids to continue to learn American Government. Guess I just sort of thought that AMERICAN kids should understand how the AMERICAN government works, especially when they were about to become voting participants of our great republic. Seems, FPS didn't think that was so important. Then I joined others to fight against trimesters, becasuse you know what, THEY ARE A FAILURE, and the only ones suffering are those pesky high schoolers - again. But, I guess FPS doesn't think that is so important. Then, I decided to speak up about the fact that Farmington Central and Alameda are not included in the current bond request. Oh wait! Those are just those kids who don't do so well in a mainstream high school and geez, just some little ones who might need a little extra help. But again, FPS wasn't focused on the KIDS who may need the most help...let's just leave those behind. And then there is EAGLE ELEM...and a school that was packed to its busting point was suddenly closed because why? Well, it certainly wasn't because FPS was going to make it any easier on over 600 KIDS at that school. Hey, what the heck, they can go on a 45 minute field trip to a new school - TWICE A DAY. Yep... here in FPS it's clear, the decisions are always ALL ABOUT THE KIDS. NOT!
Trisha Balazovic August 20, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Sue - all of the items you mention in your last post with the exception of the August bond are things that transpired before my son was even in school yet and before my daughter was born. I can't comment on things I don't have full knowledge of nor will I. I will admit to being new to all of this. But I am a fast learner. And I will continue to fight for what I think is right for ALL FPS students, no matter what age or school they attend. And I will begin to educate myself on the items I am not current on. I also want to say that I was not in favor of every item on the bond. But I am in favor of moving in the right direction, that is why I have fought so hard for the bond.
Sharon August 20, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Trisha, I am glad to read that you are going to educate yourself about the history that certainly influences many of the issues that are being discussed here. After 20 plus years of being very actively involved in this school district, numerous millage proposals, endless truly daily volunteering during my children's education my perspective is certainly different than yours. But before you lump me or anyone else into a "you" category that doesn't "understand that these things go hand in hand" I will enlighten you to the fact that I have a master's degree in education. I do know a great deal about education but more importantly I do know a great deal about how difficult it has been to swim upstream in the FPS system and still find a way to successfully educate and graduate my children. Each of us has individual experiences that lead us to where we are with our opinions regarding FPS. The "you" group is very disappointed that the EDUCATION your children will be getting doesn't hold a candle to the individualized education most of our children had when they started in FPS. The severe downhill slide started with trimesters and connected math being shoved down this community's throat by the current administration. It is time to hold the current administration accountable for the academic losses FPS students have suffered. Just be sure you get both sides of each story you uncover in your search to educate yourself. My children had 17 students, a full time parapro, a reading specialist, daily PE music art etc. when they started kindergarten. Not what our tax dollars are getting us today.
Gregory Keller August 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Gregory Keller August 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM I support the accusation that FPS is fiscally irresponsible. First off the budget says they have $ 9800/student but when you divide the total amount of revenue by the number of students it is over $14000/student. With this much money I could give them every thing they have now plus health insurance, a new laptop, a new classroom every year. This is more than UofM and Mich Tech tuition. Why does FPS need more money per student than a university? I would be in favor of a 50% cut and a new school board. My high school in Indianapolis uses only $5000 per student and achieves similar test scores!


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