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Farmington Schools Parent Opposes Bond Tax Increase

Kerry Jackson says after an article appeared about his opposition to the Aug. 6 school bond, someone left a dead rat on his doorstep.

Kerry Jackson opposes the Aug. 6 Farmington Public Schools bond referendum. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
Kerry Jackson opposes the Aug. 6 Farmington Public Schools bond referendum. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
Farmington Hills resident and Aug. 6 Farmington Public Schools bond opponent Kerry Jackson is not one to complain and then do nothing

Because he cannot support the $222 million question, Jackson said, he paid for a postcard mailing and automated or "robo" calls out of his own pocket. The information was labeled as coming from an organization he founded called Farmington Citizens United.

Jackson said he wishes he had not attached the group's name to the effort. 

"The purpose of Farmington Citizens United was not supposed to be one issue," he said.

The group was formed to host forums with speakers on both sides of issues like having a part-time legislature. Jackson said he also has invited people on both sides of previous elections to a breakfast the morning after election day, so everyone could come together and move forward. 

Jackson wonders if that will be possible the Wednesday after this election. He said that since he started voicing opposition, he has been stripped of his leadership role in the Farmington African American Parent Network, and people with whom he felt he had a good relationship have distanced themselves. 

The day after an article about him appeared in the Farmington Observer, Jackson said, he found a dead rat on his doorstep. 

None of that has changed his mind about what he believes is an over-reach by the school district. The bond would initially raise the district's debt millage from 2.56 mills to 4 mills, a more than 50 percent increase. 

District officials have said that the millage rate will decrease over time, resulting in an average 2.62 mills over the life of the bond, and that the district's debt millage will remain lower than many Oakland and Wayne County districts. 

After examining information on the district's website, Jackson said, he can see the need for $90 million in building repairs.

"I would be the first one to support $90 million to fix those problems," he said. "Some people will complain about salaries, that's not my complaint. If you want good people, you pay them."

Jackson said the way officials decided on the amount of the bond doesn't make sense to him. "Tell me how much it costs to fix the roof ... not, 'give me $222 million, and we'll take care of things as we need to'," he said. 

New furnishings are great, he said, but he doesn't see what they have to do with educating children. School districts are not evaluated on looks, but on how well they education kids.

And while Jackson understands the need to fix issues with older buildings, "it does not cost a quarter billion dollars to fix water mains," he said. He'd like to see specific amounts for roof replacement, artificial turn replacement and other items on the bond proposal lists. 

The father of three, Jackson said he has had mixed experiences with Farmington schools. While his son did well at Highmeadow Common Campus, his daughter struggled at Warner (then a middle school) after doing well in Southfield Public Schools. She eventually graduated from a private school, where her grades improved.

Jackson said he plans a Farmington Citizen United forum that tackles what's going on in Farmington Public Schools and what other school districts are doing to better educate students. He is also looking at a run for school board.

"On Wednesday, there's going to be some people whose feelings are hurt, and they're going to hold a grudge," he said. "I would like to put it behind us. Otherwise, there's courts and campaigns." 
Sharon July 31, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Mr. Jackson, although we have never met, I am extremely saddened by the information in this article; nevertheless I am glad that your voice is finally being heard. After a quick internet search I was encouraged by both your personal credentials and your standing as a leader in the FAAPN. I was subsequently discouraged after reading the comment that "clarified" that you were no longer the "president" of the FAAPN in the Observer according to a Board member that I had hoped due to her long and outstanding standing philanthropic reputation would stand above the fray. I did my due diligence and attempted to verify that your position had officially been removed from the FAAPN, but reached an impasse due to the fact that the June 11, 2013 FPS Board minutes detailing FAAPN year-end-minutes are missing online for me to review and verify that you are no longer a leader of this organization. I would like to commend you for your desire to be involved in my community; we certainly need some new perspectives. But I would also like to apologize for the unwarranted attacks that have surfaced simply because you disagree with the stance that our tax payer funded school district has taken. Please do not lose your drive to look out for the student and taxpayers of this district as a result of this campaign. It really is about putting our students first. How we as taxpayers vote to spend our tax dollars will likely be lost in this costly, low voter turnout election, but I hope not. Too many local taxpayers are struggling just to keep their monthly budgets afloat. We will all support our schools when a reasonable, cost effective, fully disclosed plan is placed before us for a vote. To ask for such an over the top amount of funding in this economy simply shows how much FPS administration is out of touch with the community that is it supposed to serve. I am voting NO! But you receive an overwhelming YES for your personal efforts.
robertzucker1 July 31, 2013 at 10:02 AM
May Mr Jackson go from strength to strength in good health. Sometimes people are unwilling to listen to reasoned discourse. I fear that 8/6/13 will be such a day. As for the dead rat it was probably a feral tomcat which left it as a token of esteem or courtship.
Gene Greenstein July 31, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Mr. Jackson should be commended for standing up and expressing his opinion. Our system of government works when people get involved no matter what side of the issue they take. In the case of the School bond issue There should have been multiple bond issues each addressing the unique needs of the school system. As an example, Computers are a unique item with a short life and will require replacement 4-5 times over the life of the proposed bond issue and have nothing to do with the needed repairs to the buildings. No matter who is on the School Board no government entity should be given a large pot of the taxpayers money and be trusted to deliver across a significant number of unrelated projects over a multi-year time frame. Almost a Quarter of a Billion Dollars is a lot of money in these difficult times. Vote NO on the Bond Proposal so we can get a clearly defined set of seperate bond requests in November that will make a difference in our children's education and make the best use of taxpayer dollarts
Rhonda Anderson July 31, 2013 at 01:47 PM
I too am deeply disappointed that the debate over this bond proposal has diminished to personal name calling, loss of friendships and rats. Really? It's an unfortunate proposal and a difficult time for our schools, our economy, and apparently for some folks' maturity levels. Let's look at the big picture people, keep the personal stuff out of this, make good decisions for our entire community and move forward. I'm voting NO in the hope that our school board will come back with smaller, more directed proposals in the near future.
Dennis Homant August 02, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Where can I get a yard sign that says "Vote NO"?
Joe Smith August 15, 2013 at 04:34 PM
We put the house up for sale today, i have spoken to others that are doing the same thing. Sounds like to be parents with younger childern want a better school district. Looking in the Livonia area.

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