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Committees Pave the Way for Farmington Schools Bond Referendum

Three groups of residents, parents, students and district staff examine facility needs.

The Farmington Public Schools Capital Finance Team recommended the $222 million bond referendum. Photo credit: Farmington Public Schools website screenshot
The Farmington Public Schools Capital Finance Team recommended the $222 million bond referendum. Photo credit: Farmington Public Schools website screenshot
On Aug. 6, Farmington school district voters will decide whether to approve a $222 million bond for improvements and repairs touching every building in the district. Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch looks at how we got here, what's on the ballot, what's happening in neighboring districts and what officials plan to do with all that money.

First, a little history. 

Four years before Farmington Public Schools officials voted in April to put a $222 million bond referendum on the Aug. 6 ballot, a team of 27 district residents began gathering information about, among other things, the condition of the district's buildings.

In 2010, officials approved one of Facilities Study Committee recommended options to close four elementary schools and the Maxfield Training Center. They also identified about $100 million in needed repairs to the remaining buildings and grounds. 

The Facilities Forward committee, appointed in June of 2012, identified about $300 million in improvements, including reconfigured classrooms, technology improvements and tighter security in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. 

"Sandy Hook really changed the landscape for safety and security," school and community relations director Diane Bauman said. The proposals, she said, "add another layer of security" to K-12 buildings. 

The Capital Finance committee whittled the $300 million down to $222 million by eliminating plans to centralize early childhood programs, relocate Farmington Central High School students, reconfigure the administrative center, Ten Mile Building and transportation area and create a community center.

In all, district facilities manager Jon Riebe said, three community groups have been involved in the years leading up to the referendum. "They've all had input through the entire process," he said.

Who served on those committees? The Facilities Study team included 23 district residents, four district staffers and a facilitator. Four high school students, 13 parents and three community residents served with 15 staff members on the Facilities Forward committee, and five parents, one community member and 10 school staff on the Capital Finance committee. 

Board member George Gurrola was part of the Facilities Forward and Capital Finance committees. 

Riebe said a community survey conducted as part of the Capital Finance team's work showed 62 percent of residents would support a capital bond referendum, 41 percent showed strong support. Nearly 60 percent said they would support an annual property tax increase of $120 or higher.

Officials say owners of average priced homes in Farmington and Farmington Hills will pay less than that, if the referendum passes. 

Next: What's on the ballot and how much will it cost? 

Correction: The amount of the bond was incorrectly reported in the original version of this story. 
FHVoice August 07, 2013 at 09:53 AM
"has anybody ever done any detailed research on what our Farmington School Board actually gets paid along with their benefits and retirement packages?" - Really? You're kidding. Benefits? To any school board member: care to itemize the HUGE salary packages you get? (I'm not surprised that SBK didn't post an answer. As the wife of one, surely she knows.)
Sue Burstein August 07, 2013 at 09:58 AM
Happy to answer...didn't see that someone asked. They get $30 a Board meeting they. That's it. Doesn't include special meetings like budget, closed, etc. So what? I doubt anyone is in it for the money at that rate. And FH...if you are so freakin' smart, why don't you answer some of these peop'ss' questions and concerns? You have not put out a single bit of info. Just like now, throw it back to me as a way to to insult. Wow! Stay Classy! Well, folks, for those of you new to this Board, this is what I have to deal with. FH suddenly showed up in posts a couple of days ago...no clue who they are as they are too cowardly to post under their real name.
FHVoice August 07, 2013 at 11:56 AM
Hope you have some cheese to go with that whine, Sue Burstein-Kahn. I smiled broadly when I read "if you are so freakin' smart". Why should I pose as an expert on school board compensation when an authoritative source is so readily available and clearly has the energy to type what seems like megabytes of posts? That is throwing "it back to me as a way to to insult"? You flatter yourself. If you read the post, I wrote " To any school board member: care to itemize the HUGE salary packages you get?". Don't blame me that you have appointed yourself as an ex officio member of the school board and felt compelled to answer. " this is what I have to deal with"? Really? Again, I really do hope you have some cheese to go with that whine, Sue Burstein-Kahn; it seems you are dipping a bit deep into the goblet this morning.
Joni Hubred-Golden August 07, 2013 at 12:07 PM
I've left this note on other threads, and it applies here as well: We welcome your comments, but please refrain from personal comments about other Patch users and stick to discussing the issues. Thanks!
David Anderson August 08, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Incorrect - "In 2010, officials approved one of Facilities Study Committee recommended options to close four elementary schools and the Maxfield Training Center." The FST did not make this recommendation, nor did it formally present this option. This was created and championed only by the BOE.

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