On Friday, August 7th - three days after the August 4th Primary election, the Saginaw Board of Education approved language at their August 5th meeting and submitted ballot language to Saginaw County Clerk Michael Hanley to have a $100 Million Dollar Bond Proposal placed on the Nov. 3rd General Election ballot.
Amidst this time of lockdowns and the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the vast destruction to the US economy, an explosion of our national debt, an unprecedented spike in unemployment, and the destruction of tens of millions of small businesses, this request would be the second largest in Saginaw’s history.
This millage request reads as follows:
‘Shall the School District of the City of Saginaw, County of Saginaw, borrow the principal sum of not to exceed $99,950,000 and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, for the purpose of defraying the cost of:
• Constructing, furnishing, and equipping new schools, including a NEW comprehensive High School and a NEW Handley Elementary School in the School District.
• Constructing additions to equipping, furnishing, re-equipping, refurnishing, and remodeling School District buildings, including Arthur Hill High School for SASA and the existing Saginaw High School as a middle school, including classroom, auditorium, lighting and climate control improvements.
• Acquiring and installing technology infrastructure and equipment: and;
• Acquiring, improving and developing sites, including outdoor athletic facilities, playgrounds and structures in the School District?
The estimated millage to be levied in 2021 to service this issue of bonds is 7 mills ($7.00 per $1,000 of taxable value) and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds of this issue is 6.78 mills ($6.78 per $1,000 of taxable value). The bonds may be issued in multiple series, payable in the case of each series in not to exceed 30 years from the date of issue of such series.
The School District currently has $43,3255,000 of qualified bonds outstanding and Zero dollars of qualified loans outstanding under the State School Bond Qualification & Loan Program. The School Districts expects to borrow from the program to pay debt service on these bonds. The estimated total principal amount of such borrowing is $2,413,426 and the estimated total interest thereon is $3,557,887.
The estimated duration of the millage levy associated with that borrowing is 31 years and the estimated computed millage rate for such levy is 7.00 mills. The estimated computed millage rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.
(Under State law, bond proceeds may not be used to pay teacher salaries, routine maintenance or repair costs, or other school expenses.)
Back in 2008 the Board spent $22 million constructing the current Thompson Middle School, which was the site of the former Handley Intermediate School in order to consolidate middle school students due to declining enrollments, while also voting to close North & South Intermediate Schools. Now, 12 years later, they want a ‘New’ Handley School.
The Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, or SASA, is a small public high school and middle school for talented students. From its founding in the early 1980s until 1999, it was known as the Center for the Arts & Sciences (CAS). During this period, it was a half-day school utilizing a concentration, or major, program to allow students to focus on specialized areas of study, while spending the other half of the day at their home school. In 1999, the name was changed, and SASA became a full day school, allowing students to take other required classes in addition to their concentration.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the CAS shared its building with the Ruben Daniels Center for Lifelong Education, an adult and alternative high school also run by the Saginaw School district. The CAS met with surprising success, and began drawing students from throughout the Saginaw-valley area, including Saginaw, Bay, and Midland counties.
In the late 1990s, a committee of students, parents, and teachers, began a campaign to expand the school to include a full-day option. This committee took on the name "The River School Project", owing to the school's location on the banks of the Saginaw River near downtown Saginaw. Although the committee met with much doubt and resistance, support gradually built, and after several meetings the Saginaw School Board eventually unanimously approved plans to expand the school and change the name to the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy. In 1999, full-day programs were added for the 9th and 10th grade, with the 11th grade following in 2000, and the 12th grade in 2001.
The school building was renovated to include three new full science labs, an atrium, gymnasium, and a new performing arts center that opened at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Although these renovations are only 10 years old, the plan proposes to demolish the school and build one comprehensive high school on the site. The students would come from Saginaw High School and Arthur Hill High School.
Arthur Hill has about 740 students and Saginaw High has 440. Over the past 10 - 12 years, the district has lost an average of 300 kids per year.
The next step would be to move SASA and Handley Elementary students to the current Arthur Hill location. The two schools would be separate facilities to create a “gifted and talented” campus. Saginaw High School would be repurposed for an after-school high school program for the district. A portion of the building would be demolished, leaving the gym, media center, office space and one wing of classrooms. All of the outside athletic facilities would remain except for the tennis courts. Arthur Hill would be demolished. The only part that would remain is the gym for potential after-school programs.
The last school bond request that passed was back in 2004, with the approval of a $70 million-dollar bond targeted for remodeling existing school district buildings (two which are now targeted for demolition) in addition to constructing a new elementary school building and a new middle school building. This measure was approved by vote of 5,082 to 4,806.
Prior to this, another bond request was attempted back in 2003 for a whopping $240 million that was defeated by an almost two-to-one margin of 3,964 in favor and 6,002 opposed. Again, this request was for remodeling existing school district buildings including instructional and community resource spaces and safety, security, and energy conversation improvements; constructing additions to School District buildings, acquiring and installing technology infrastructure, and networking School District buildings; constructing new school buildings in the School District; improving and developing sites, including playgrounds and outdoor athletic facilities and structures, and acquiring sites for school expansion; and equipping, furnishing, reequipping and/or refurnishing new and existing School District buildings and additions
Under this current proposals, the owner of a home with a $45,000 SEV value would see their property taxes increase by $315.00 per year for 30 years.