St. Johns School Bond Proposal

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Whether he's talking about the wrestling room, the classrooms, or the one and only gym at the high school, it's clear St. Johns Superintendent Ken Ladouceur believes renovations are long overdue.

"I'm very seriously concerned with our safety of out bleachers," Ladouceur said. "There are too many access points into the building. Our facilities were built in the 1960s, not for the current situation."

So he's pushing for voters to approve a $64 million bond next month, one that would renovate the 40-year-old high school, plus have some left over money for other district improvements.

"This maintains the mil we've been paying for for a number of years," he said. "This would not be a not a tax increase."

The total for this year's bond is $64 million, $56 million of that would stay at the high school for renovations. So, for a person with a $100,000 house, it would equal about $144 dollars per year.

"Philosophically we are not against the need for improvements in the schools, but we are against the way its being funded," Tim Karasek said.

Karasek is a district parent and a member of the group "Alternatives to Education Funding," which believes the district should use a sinking fund to pay for improvements, not a bond.

"We're borrowing money and paying interest in a bond version," he said. "The sinking fund is taxing ourselves a millage and putting that money into a piggy bank."

That method would take longer though because there's a cap on how much you can tax yearly, but there are no interest payments either.

Karasek said this method has worked for a district in the Flint area.

"It's paid for period," he said.

Ladouceur said it's more complicated than that. Sinking funds have limitations to how you can spend the money.

"It couldn't be broken up into enough smaller pieces to get the job done effectively," Ladouceur said.

He's hoping the winds have changed from last year, and residents vote "yes" to the bond proposal.

Ladouceur said now is the perfect time for a school bond because the US government is lending $15 million to schools at very low interest rates through the stimulus package. The district would save about $40 million in interest costs over the life of the bond.

***You can go to www.nodebtnobondnoway.com to visit the website by "Alternatives to Education Funding."

**For facts from supporters of the bond, go to the website: www.schoolsfortomorrow.org

Election day is May 4th.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Wendy Location: St. Johns on Apr 25, 2010 at 04:32 PM
    The question is not whether improvments need to be made, but how many "extras" are being included. Why do we need new classrooms, if we are being told that our elementary enrollment is down? Why do we need 2 gymnasiums? Remember when we were told how unsafe Rodney B. Wilson was and how they could not rennovate to accommodate updated technology, thus making a new middle school "necessary"? What is the Wilson Center now being used for--before and after school child care, a pre-school, alternative education and Michigan Works! It is about time for this school board and superintendant to be HONEST and to be REALISTIC and RESPONSIBILE with the decisions they are making.
  • by Essex Resident Location: Essex Township on Apr 23, 2010 at 08:21 AM
    And a BIG thank you to the SJ middle school teacher who illegally sent a 'vote yes' email to hundreds of parents after accessing school records! By the way; who is currently funding schoolsoftommorrow.org? Before the last bond issue, I understand that Kingscott and Clark were the two largest funders.
  • by bob on Apr 23, 2010 at 08:20 AM
    Why are SJ school teachers and staff using the email that we pay for to send out a vote YES message? I think there are laws against that. The school administration also used the school mailing system to send out their fact sheets. I think they are walking a fine line. Who is paying for all this marketing? Is it us the taxpayer or is it Schools for Tomorrow? I would think that if it was Schools for Tomorrow it would have a vote Yes message. I would bet that the school district is using taxpayer money to pay for the majority of this marketing campaign not to mention the approximately $18,000 spent last year and the $18,000 be spent this year to have a special election. Add it all up and it is half the annual salary and benefits of a good teacher. They are spending all this money while facing a $1.6 million shortfall in the budget. I don't get the feeling they are spending taxpayer dollars like their own money as they claim.
  • by We're all anonymous on Apr 23, 2010 at 05:16 AM
    P.S. When you are attacking other people for their misspellings and grammar, it is generally advisable to make certain that you are spelling things correctly as well. It's "inability", not "inablity". I certainly hope you are not one of the teachers at SJ trying to teach my children...
  • by We're all anonymous on Apr 22, 2010 at 07:33 AM
    "Posted by: Anonymous on Apr 21, 2010 at 08:22 PM -Apparently the schools should go back to teaching spelling and grammar... check out the rules on there, their and their it will help you to at least appear intelligent; not to mention your inablity to use an apostrophe. " And while they're at it, perhaps YOU should check out the rules on proper sentence formation, run-on sentences, and punctuation. I am certain it will help you to appear more intelligent as well.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 21, 2010 at 05:22 PM
    Apparently the schools should go back to teaching spelling and grammar... check out the rules on there, their and their it will help you to at least appear intelligent; not to mention your inablity to use an apostrophe.
  • by Rosie Location: St. Johns on Apr 21, 2010 at 04:41 PM
    Who said we need to replace everything in the first place? In this type of economy, we need to repair first. Like the middle school roof, the bleachers, and the apparent "100 ways to break into the high school" mentioned by the supt. We do not NEED new everything. Why does the district have to always put off small things until they become big, then pressure taxpayers into committing to a long term debt situation. Yes, pressure. If a bond doesn't pass, they stereotype every "no" voter as anti-kid, anti-teacher, anti-education or anti-American. There is no plan if this bond fails, other than to bring it back again in November. Do they think we'll all have new jobs and more money by then? No. They're just hoping to shame more people into voting "for the kids". It's for the kids, all right. It's for them to be in debt before they can even legally write a check to pay it off.
  • by Bryan Location: St. Johns on Apr 21, 2010 at 04:26 PM
    My kids go to school in St. Johns. I'm voting no. Sorry but internally all I see is the hope and desire to keep up with the Jones of DeWitt, Okemos, Holt, etc. Haven't heard anyone talking about the exodus rates that started to climb when those tax pigeons came home to roost. Clinton County is an agricultural setting. We used to have some serious employers here but they moved on and so have their jobs. Foreclosures continue to roam the county. Do they really think about circumstances? What if the district ends up defaulting? How many school employees will survive that State coming in and taking over? Want to see troubling times? Start watching the battles taking place over in Wayne County and surrounding districts down there. Do you really want to have that here in Saint Johns? Yeah, we're not the prettiest. What was that old bumper sticker? "Don't laugh ... it's paid for!"
  • by Essex Location: Essex Township on Apr 21, 2010 at 02:18 PM
    I must admit I’m having a lot of trouble with this; putting my son on an hour-long bus ride past the abandonded and decaying East Essex so he can sit in a purposely overcrowded, understaffed school. And the board wants me to commit my tax dollars to a new pool? Again and again they have NOT listened to us and shaved away our education here so they can fund studies and assitant coaches. Look folks; a good, quality education BEGINS at the elementary level. I realize that the high school DOES need repairs; but this board is not getting ANY more of my money until they address the concerns that I, and others North of town have. And going door to door out here, I’m seeing more and more people who agree with that. VOTE NO. We’ll get a sinking bond to pay for the repairs and improvements, but not for the scam they’re pulling with the buses or the irrelvant items like paving parking lots or pools.
  • by Essex Resident Location: St. Johns on Apr 21, 2010 at 09:58 AM
    I'm sorry; but I have a lot of trouble with MOST of the decisions the school board has made in the past five years. Yes; I agree our high school needs repair, but I have a hard time thinking of how 'important' a new swimming pool is when my child has to sit on a bus for over an hour, pass a perfectly good, abandonded school building, and sit in overcrowded and understaffed elementary classes. Yes; the high school needs repair, and I'm willing to pay for that...I'll even vote to pay to reapir the construction defects from the LAST bond. But we are ignoring the real future of our children; the elementary schools. I am, to a certain extent, comparing two different items; operating vs. bond costs. But there is no plan to fix our situation. In this area, we don't trust the school board, and we certainly aren't going to vote for a bond from that group, particularly when I keep seeing line items they've spent for thousands on 'consulting' and coaches and have ignored us. Vote NO.
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