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Bond Critics Frustrated Over Format of Farmington Schools Informational Meeting

Officials say splitting Q & A into issues-based sessions was more effective; some with questions say it fractionalized opposition to the $222 million proposal.

Critics of a $222 million Farmington Public Schools bond issue proposal challenged officials at the close of an informational meeting held at North Farmington High Thursday, over the way questions were handled. 

Officials and residents involved in facilities visioning and capital finance committees detailed the proposal that may end up on the Aug. 6 ballot. The visioning group originally proposed about $300 million in K-12 building upgrades, combining early childhood education into one facility and relocating Farmington Central High School students. 

The early childhood and alternative high school proposals require more study, finance committee member Alan Maxey said.

Parent Trisha Balazovic said some have asked why the district's facilities aren't good enough for kids today. She said while she researched school reports by consulting encyclopedias, her 2nd grade son now gets accurate, current information from an iPad. 

"By the time my daughter graduates ... there's a lot of things that could change," she said. "When we do this, we want to do it right, for the long haul." 

During the half-hour presentation in the school cafeteria, audience members were told to reserve their questions for the end. When the time came, Assistant Superintendent David Ruhland directed them to tables in the back of the room. When some asked that questions be addressed as a group, Ruhland said the arrangement would allow officials to more effectively answer them.

Questioning bond amount, election date

Farmington Hills resident Matt Beer, a construction worker whose parents are public school teachers, accused officials of trying to fractionaize the opposition. 

"I question the validity of $222 million," he said. "Given our current facilities, I don't see how retrofitting couldn't be done for less."

Pouring money into facilities diverts attention from declining academic performance, Beer said, adding that second world countries are outperforming the U.S. with tools that American schools have abandoned. "Education seems to be more of a social event now," he added. 

Beer and Farmington Republican Club representative Bill Largent both questioned the proposed August 8 election, which they believe will result in lower turnout and waste tax dollars that could be saved by holding it in November. 

"Obviously, we want what's best for educational outcomes," Largent said, "but we're concerned. This is a concept, and it's not a proven concept. There's no real demographic analysis." 

Nick Waldecker of Farmington Hills said he was disappointed that opponents "didn't get a chance to speak to the community". He said he has a hard time wrapping his mind around spending $212 million, which he said amounts to $5,400 for every man, woman and child in the district. 

"We didn't get a chance to speak out," he said. 

Read more about the bond proposal on the district's website. 

Correction: The date for the proposed bond election was incorrectly reported in the original version of this article. It is August 6. 

Sue Burstein May 05, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Mark, you are married to Rep, Vicki Barnett. I have also read previous posts of yours where you state this, "ACORN is a poor peopl'es organization. Not a single fraudulent vote anywhere was ever shown to be cast as a result of ACORN voter registration drives or other action". HAHAHAHA...as we now know that ACORN was as CORRUPT as they get. Your credibility with me is a minus 100. Geez, I could say a whole lot about Vicki and her skills as a legislator which are dismal, so would you throw the same garbage at me then too. Please leave the lawyering at home. Just curious, which of he board members are whispering sweet things in your ear to have you say what you are saying??? It smells like the same rotten politicking that goes on there all the time. Any time you want to "discuss" the merits of the bond, their underhanded waste of $65,000 in an August election, and then wanting to pay for the $65,000 OUT OF THE BOND MONEY...happy to do so. Until then, you and I have nothing in common and nothing to discuss.
Sue Burstein May 05, 2013 at 09:26 PM
To all those posting on this issue, we missed you at the last school board meeting. Where were all of you that seem to have so much to say on this issue???? Must really be important to you...huh?
Jim Sparks May 06, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Mark, don't waste your time trying to argue with this one. It only encourages her. Methinks she may have been frightened by a school board member as a young child, and it has affected her ever since... ; )
Sue Burstein May 06, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Good one Jim. Really it was a bunch of liberal left wing school board hacks that I have watched destroy what was an excellent district once with their left wing dribble, programs like IB that promotes global Citizenship over being an American first, and not taking care district assets in the best interest of the true owners....we the people. The Board has helped to destroy education in our district with trimesters, children switching schools so much that their heads spins. I have listened to them blame everyone but themselves for falling graduation rates and being barely a middle of the pack district today, just check out the latest US News and World Report. We get a NOT ranked. Oh goody. Yet, according to Crain's last week, FPS now employ 25 MORE full time people than last year. We are facing a 7 million dollar deficit...yet we have MORE employees we don't need? Now there is solid management for you. That, Jim, is what scares me. Ineffective elected officials whose only real power in life appears to be derived from being able to screw over this district, which is what we have had for years in FPS.
mark steckloff May 08, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Sue, I was there. Sorry you missed me. Sue, not one School Board member has ever spoken to me about the proposal. I trust this satisfies your "curiosity". In advocating your position, you are your own worst enemy. You suggested the school board was "corrupt". That turned out to be empty words. You bully and personally attack anyone who doesn't agree with you. Calling someone who doesn't agree with you an "Obamaphile" alienates a substantial majority of the voters in Farmington Hills. Attacking Rep. Vicki Barnett, who hasn't posted here or taken a position yet on the bond issue, who just won re-election with some 63% of the vote in Farmington Hills, is not only unnecessary, but strategically is sheer idiocy. By the way, it's still true that "not a single fraudulent vote anywhere was ever shown to be cast as a result of ACORN voter registration drives or other action". This will be my last visit to this thread. I have honestly been trying to evaluate this bond proposal. But time is too valuable to waste here. You have proved that there is nothing to be learned from discussing a substantive issue with you, other than your reckless disregard for truth and your incivility. I'm sure there are others opposing the bond proposal with much more to offer. Good bye.

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