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 April 19, 2013 at 01:37 PM
TSK...TSK...TSK...same old tactics of obfuscation and divide and conquer. The lack of transparency, and the need of this district to constantly hide the truth has been going on for years. Exactly what are they afraid of? Perhaps, it is that the community will find out what a total waste of OUR hard won dollars this really is. FPS has no interest in listening to the community on any topic. Just look at how they handle real estate transactions, or attend a board meeting and watch their faces as community members speak. The majority of these board members are a disgrace to the office they hold. They are suppose to set the standard, not bring it to its lowest level.
Sue Burstein April 19, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Remember the bond issue a few years ago to "redo" Grace Elementary. It would keep the school viable for years to come. We spent lots and lots of money on that one. Nice piece of vacant land now. How's that one working for us?
Sue Burstein April 19, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Does everyone know that this bond issue is slated for August? Since this is not a normal election time, this SPECIAL election, poised when many people do not come out to vote - done purposefully - will cost the district about $65,000 more than if it was done in the regular election in November. Just wondering what services they could actually be providing to students for $65,000? What great stewards these people are of OUR money....talk about government corruption and waste...they sure know how to do things the WRONG way.
Michael Ritenour April 19, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Ms. Burstein: You raise some legitimate concerns. Perhaps you could attract more people to your point of view, or at least spark some genuine debate, if your diatribes weren't so shrill, hyperbolic, and defamatory (e.g. unless you have evidence that someone is accepting bribes, you should refrain from accusing them of corruption).
Sue Burstein April 19, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Michael....I believe that I used the term "government corruption and waste" which is what gevernmental entities of almost any type are most well known for. Not sure what separates FPS from the State or the Feds in this area? I did not say they, individually, were corrupt. Read my words. But corruption in government is well known, and wasting OUR money whether a school district or the federal government, is a crime . So, before you accuse me of calling any individual of being corrupt , which I did not do, and of defamatory comments - which would only apply to an individual and their personal life, read my words again. My comments relate to ELECTED OFFICIALS and their proxies. Finally, where did the bribes crap come from? And if this ELECTED BOARD didn't work in the backroom, if they were actually transparent, then I would have little to be "shrill" about - right? But, they ignore the public will, they do not do what is best for our district and the students and they march to the tune of their own agenda. It's a sorry state of affairs. Oh wait, now I get it, you must be a lawyer...as only a lawyer would start throwing the 'defamation", "bribes" and "accusing them" terms around.
Sue Burstein April 19, 2013 at 08:55 PM
Too funny, Michael, it appears your really are a lawyer.Or at least someone with your name in the Farmington area is. http://www.lawlink.com/attorney/621810
Sue Burstein April 19, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Michael, I want to be clear...when I say "crime" I didn't mean it in a literal sense, but rather as a manner speech, as isn't that "just a crime" when talking about a situation that stinks to high He**!!
Susan Hensoldt April 21, 2013 at 11:29 PM
There they go again! FPS is wasting taxpayers money once again! I'm voting NO!
Edward Long April 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM
Oh yes Susan! What a waste. Wanting to update facilities so those pesky darn kids have an environment that is a bit less less than 50 years old, and surround those kids with up to date technology and learning tools. Farmington Public SCHOOLS, just wanting to throw away your hard earned money again..ON KIDS!!! imagine.
mark steckloff April 22, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Sue, I, too, read your comment as linking "these people" to "government corruption". In context, "these people" clearly referred to the school board. If that is not what you intended, you might want to make that clear. By the way, while there is much wider latitude given to false statements about elected officials, defamation also applies to them.
Sue Burstein April 23, 2013 at 01:14 AM
So, when I say that Obama is a scumbag president is that defamation? When I say I think he is corrupt - is that defamation? When I say I believe,that he is a communist. Is that defamation? If so, then about 40% of America is defaming the fool in the White House. Oh wait, he's a blithering fool. Guess that's defamation too? So, it's not because he put himself out there as an elected official. Same applies to other elected officials. If they can't take the heat they should RESIGN. I don't think I accused anyone of beating their wives or robbing a bank. When I do that, you might have an argument. We recently had a candidate sue another one for truly lying about them in public ads Saying absolutely awful things that were not true. Guess what? Got thrown out of court. Politics is dirty business. Again, if elected officials don't like how people view their job then GET OUT OF POLITICS. Geez.....please cite a case where an elected official has actually won defamation when it relates to their elected,position. Whimps should not run for office. Elected, officials should have cajones. If they are going to use the defamation word every time they don't like what is said and get their teensy weeny little feelings hurt they should, like I said before, RESIGN, and put us all out of the misery of having to listen to them.
Darren Whittaker April 23, 2013 at 02:36 PM
You, too seem to have a problem with those who disagree with you. Your ill-fated challenge to the sale of Eagle was - wait for it... thrown out of court. THREE times! Yet you continue to whine and concoct conspiracy theories in an effort to smear people who have not been proved to be corrupt. Take your own advice, and move on. Many of us are tired of your diatribes and unproven insinuations. Either prove your accusations conclusively, or try and focus your considerable anger on self-improvement. BTW, your defamatory smear of the President of the United States is telling. Again - no real proof, but evidently it makes you feel good to rail against someone who doesn't look like you'd like him to. Apply your exact same words to the previous holder of that office, and you'd scream "treason!!". Give us all a break.
Sue Burstein April 23, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Darren, have I offended an Obamaphile? The case was not thrown out three times. Case was never heard. Get your facts straight. As for your comment of railing against someone who doesn't lok like me? Exactly what kind of comment is that? Are you calling me a name? TSK TSK Darren, you should be careful what you say. Why don't you show up at a school board meeting sometime. You might be enlightened.
mark steckloff April 23, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Sue, I get it that you are accusing the School Board of "waste" in holding the bond election in August. But why are you also accusing them of "corruption" with respect to the August election, or perhaps with respect to the bond issue in general? Do you have any details or particulars?
Darren Whittaker April 24, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Thrown out, never heard. Same result, based on same failings. As for your accusation of name calling....if it walks & talks like a duck, well, you know the rest. Now I suppose you'll say I'm calling you a duck. Hilarious. Actually, I have attended a school board meeting. More than one in fact. I was embarrassed for you and your ilk who have nothing to add to the discussion but unproven accusations and wild conjecture. But, at least I was paying attention. Your "team" member on the board seemed quite preoccupied with his cell phone...
Sue Burstein April 24, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Darren, you are just like the board. You don't listen. You are the same waste of good time that they are. Funny that Dave Ruhland would say this.: “Ruhland also said in February following the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the process was a learning experience and in the future the district likely would handle things differently. “We are not going to stumble into doing something under the table,” he said.” Now, what would make him say that? Could it be under the table dealings previously? There is an old saying, fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. You might want to think about that. As for my "ilk"? Just what do you mean by that? First you comment on people that don't look, like me, and then my ilk? Sounds a bit like comments that would have come out of Nazi Germany at one time. Just wondering where you are going with YOUR comments about me, my "ilk" and my family. Hopefully what i am reading is not what you mean. After all, they keep telling us we are a community that accepts everyone, no matter their color, religion, etc. etc. etc. Right?
Sue Burstein April 24, 2013 at 04:00 PM
They are 7 million dollars short on the next budget. They will be trashing programs and laying off many teachers. But they can spend an entire teacher's salary on a "special" election? And, why are you trying to draw me in on this corruption thing? Are you working for them? What's do you consider knowingly spending money you don't have?? Money that is not yours? If the bond goes down, they will spend money they don't have on another special election. That will be TWO teachers we could employ. Maybe put reading recovery back in place. How about classes for AP. kids who are getting screwed by trimesters? Nope...they want an election that they could hold for FREE 3 months later in the general election. Something is rotten in FPS.
Sue Burstein April 24, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Will $222 million fix this? http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/michigan/districts/farmington-public-school-district/north-farmington-high-school-9914
Sue Burstein April 24, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Our best high school once, once one of the best in e country. Over 200 in Michigan made the list. We don't even rank anymore. This is EPIC failure. $222 million in school construction and renovation will not come close to fixing this. And this happened under the watchful eye of many of the current board, and certainly the administration. Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do. We pay some one highest taxes already and our schools are tanking. Just good money after bad. , http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/michigan/districts/farmington-public-school-district/north-farmington-high-school-9914
Sue Burstein April 24, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Money will not fix this fact.... http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/michigan/districts/farmington-public-school-district/north-farmington-high-school-9914 I have no problem with fixing schools. I would support a bond to do so. But $222 million is not about fixing up schools. They need to pay more attention to failing students, stalling graduation rates, and not so much on thinking they need a QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS to make pretty buildings. Education is not about the buildings, but rather about who is in them.
Darren Whittaker April 25, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Oh, Sue. Complaining about "name calling", then flinging more of the same. I realize, as many others do, that trying to engage in a reasonable conversation with you is futile, but as I said before, we are tired of the vitriol and constant character assassination you find so satisfying. It's said that those who scream the loudest often have much to hide. Instead of trying to constructively improve whatever ails our school system (and yes, it has flaws like most others), it seems you find that slinging mud and outrageous, unfounded accusations is much easier, and maybe after all it's the attention you crave. I just wish you and your few compatriots (wait...did I call you a "name"?) could see your way to a more constructive and effective manner of dialogue. Hope springs eternal...
Sue Burstein April 25, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Oh Darren, I have lived around people like you, who choose to bash those of us who actually take a stand, attend meetings, and stay involved, while you do nothing but write posts on websistes. So....at least I have the self satisfaction of knowing I tried. You can have the self-satisfaction of just posting. That's a lot of work from your arm chair and channel changer. I would have far more respect for anyone who gets up and comes to meetings, takes a stand...even if they vehemently disagree with me. Pretty much, those people, in this district are about .00001% of the voting public. That is truly the sad part.
Darren Whittaker April 26, 2013 at 01:32 PM
As usual, you assume a great deal about me, without actually knowing anything about me. But it seems that's par for your course. Much easier to revel in your uninformed assumptions than to actually seek knowledge. I don't think I've seen you at any volunteer events, or contributing to the general good of the community, though I've been involved in many such things over the last few decades. Just where you can rant and rail against perceived challenges to your pre-formed agenda, where you can get the attention that seems so important to you. No concrete solutions, nor workable suggestions, but a great deal of blather and spew. BTW - I don't own an armchair, nor do I watch much TV. But then, facts have never been all that important to you, have they? Whatever makes you happy, I guess.
mark steckloff May 05, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Ms. Burstein, it was YOUR characterization of the school board's actions: "Talk about government corruption and waste". Later, you failed to identify any corruption by anyone when asked, and then denied accusing any Board member of corruption. OK, I get it now -- despite your rather casual accusation, you don't actually have any evidence of corruption by any Board member. Fortunately, you also basically said that you can say whatever you want about an elected official's non-private actions without defaming them -- which is not quite true. This tells me, and the many other like me who are trying to evaluate the merits of this millage and who don't know you, that you will throw out statements rashly, without having supporting evidence and with a rather casual disregard as to whether the statements are actually true. In short, it tells us that you are not a credible source of information. Finally, you might want to reconsider your hostile and bullying tone on this board -- your personal attacks and innuendo turn off those who might otherwise sympathize with points you are trying to make.
Sue Burstein May 05, 2013 at 09:13 PM
I will support an update. I will not support the board wasting an additional $130 million dollars. They are spending $65,000 OUT OF TEACHING $$$ for an August election when November will cost them NOTHING. Update facilities, don't screw us over doing it.
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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