Williamston Community Schools, Ballot Initiatives, August 6, 2024

  • Proposal #1: WCS Bond Proposal

    On August 6, 2024, WCS will ask voters to consider a $38.5 million bond proposal to enhance the safety and functionality of our facilities without increasing taxes from their current rates. The funds generated will address long-standing concerns well-known to current and former students, staff, and parents. The focus areas of the bond are:

    • Redesign of the traffic patterns to include pickup/dropoff routes at the elementary campus
    • Construction of new larger, modern classrooms for grades 3, 4, and 5 at Explorer Elementary.
    • A complete renovation of the "circle" at Explorer Elementary, to result in build-to-suit learning spaces for Art, STEAM, and music. Additional new classrooms for Spanish, Special Education, or other uses will also be incorporated into the design
    • Construction of a new larger gymnasium at Explorer Elementary
    • Expansion of the elementary kitchen
    • Construction of outdoor accessible restrooms at Explorer Elementary
    • Updating HVAC systems throughout the district
    • Enhancing the safety and trafficability of the high school parking lots and student dropoff/pickup locations
    • Rebuild of the tennis court facility
    • Renovation of the softball facility
    • Installation of new flooring, student furniture, and lockers throughout the district
    • Acquiring new band instruments
    • Replacing the district phone system
    • Updating select maintenance equipment 

     

  • Proposal #2: WCS Operating Millage Proposal

    Most residents are not subject to paying the operating millage. Your primary residence is exempt. However, those who own businesses or own vacation or second or third homes in Williamston are subject to the operating millage for those properties. 

    Williamston residents will vote on an adjustment to the Operating Millage. This is where the vast majority of the school district's funding comes from and is levied at 18 mills, to get the full level of funding as determined by the state. Over time, due to an increase in property values, state law requires an automatic reduction in the millage rate, meaning the district's funding is reduced. This proposal will allow the district to levy up to 18 mills, so we can be fully funded. By law, the district WILL NOT be able to levy more than 18 mills. The estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2024 is approximately $23,000.

    Proposal #2: Area Operating Millage Comparison Chart

    Area Millage Rate Comparison Chart

    View the PDF of this document here.

  • Proposal #1: Bond Proposal Debt Analysis Chart

    Debt Over Time Graph

    View the PDF of this document here.

  • Proposal #1: Area School District Bond Comparison Chart

    Area Bond Amounts since 2015

    View the PDF of this document here.

    • Frequently Asked Questions

      For the August 6, 2024 Ballot Proposals

      1.      When is the election?

      Election Day is Tuesday, August 6, 2024. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Absentee ballots will be available after June 22, 2024. Due to this election being a statewide primary election, there will be early voting beginning July 7th.

      1.      What are the ballot proposals?

      The first ballot proposal, Proposal 1, is for a bond in the amount not to exceed $38.5 million for the district to make improvements to our facilities. If approved, it would provide building & site improvements to address identified and ongoing facility needs based on facility assessments, staff, and community input.

      The second ballot proposal is a proposal regarding the Operating Millage. Most residents are not subject to paying the operating millage, because your primary residence is exempt. However, those who own businesses or own vacation or second or third homes in Williamston, are subject to the operating millage for those properties.

      Williamston residents will vote on an adjustment to the Operating Millage. This is where the vast majority of the school district’s funding comes from and is levied at 18 mills, to get our full funding level determined by the state. Over time, due to an increase in property values, state law requires an automatic reduction in the millage rate, meaning the district’s funding is reduced. This proposal will allow the district to levy up to 18 mills, so we can be fully funded. By law, the district WILL NOT be able to levy more than 18 mills.

      1.     What type of projects will the bond proposal include?

      The bond proposal will include improvements to the drop-off/pickup and traffic patterns for Explorer Elementary, Little Hornets Preschool, and Kids’ Corner Childcare, 3rd, 4th & 5th grade classroom additions at the elementary campus, outdoor accessible bathrooms, comprehensive renovations at Explorer including music, STEAM and art classroom upgrades, full size gymnasium addition, elementary campus kitchen expansion, HVAC upgrades, sidewalk and parking lot improvements, technology and classroom furniture upgrades, flooring and locker replacement, softball field and press box enhancements and tennis court renovations.

      1.     How will the bond proposal impact my taxes?

      The bond is designed so that there is no expected change to the current tax rate. Meaning, the tax rate you pay now, 7.84 mills for the current debt, will remain the same.  Sensitive to the impact on taxpayers, the district chose to limit the proposed amount so that the tax rate would not increase from the current rate. The current debt rate will simply be extended for several more years before declining.

      1.      Will the tax rate for this year (or the next) decline if I vote "no"?

      No. All previous bond issues in the district have their own pay-off schedule through Michigan’s School Bond Loan Fund and will not increase or decrease for several years, regardless of the outcome of this bond proposal.

      1. If the bond passes, what can the money be spent on?

      Legally, the bond money can only be spent on what the ballot language says. State law also limits what bond money can be spent on. It CANNOT be spent on salaries, bonuses, operating expenses or routine maintenance etc. Bond money, by law, is limited to projects like school infrastructure, new construction, renovations, school buses and technology needs. State law also requires an independent audit of the dollars spent from a bond program.

      1. How were the projects identified?

      The district is continuously keeping track of facility needs as well as tracking where the district is financially. Understanding that the opportunity was approaching where we could ask the community to consider improvements to our facilities without raising the current tax rate, we began looking at professional consulting partnerships in architects, engineers, and construction management. We then had a detailed facility analysis done to examine all facilities, held meetings with district staff to identify what their needs are. We then surveyed the community to help identify needs and wants throughout our district. A bond proposal steering committee was formed, made up of community members, parents, staff, current school board members as well as district administration to help narrow down and sift through data and responses from the community forum and surveys and to ultimately identify the scope of the project.

      That process identified more facility improvements than the bond would cover without raising the current tax rate, so the steering committee had to narrow down the scope. The Board of Education approved the bond scope that the district is bringing to a vote in August.

      1. Can the bond money be used for salaries or day to day operating expenses?

      No. The law is very specific on what bond money can and cannot be spent on. Employee salaries, or operating expenses are not allowed.

      1. What does the ballot language look like?

      WILLIAMSTON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS BOND PROPOSAL 1

      Shall Williamston Community Schools, Ingham County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Thirty-Eight Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($38,500,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor for the purpose of:

      remodeling, furnishing and refurnishing, and equipping and re-equipping school buildings; erecting, furnishing, and equipping new school facilities and additions to school buildings; and equipping, preparing, developing, and improving athletic fields and facilities, playgrounds, and sites?

      The following is for informational purposes only:

      The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2025, under current law, is -0- mill ($0 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a -0- mill net increase over the prior year’s levy. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is thirty (30) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 2.97 mills ($2.97 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

      The school district expects to borrow from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to pay debt service on these bonds. The estimated total principal amount of that borrowing is $10,353,194 and the estimated total interest to be paid thereon is $4,042,129. The estimated duration of the millage levy associated with that borrowing is 10 years and the estimated computed millage rate for such levy is 7.84 mills. The estimated computed millage rate may change based on changes in certain circumstances.

      The total amount of qualified bonds currently outstanding is $30,075,000. The total amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is approximately $1,638,236.

      (Pursuant to State law, expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.)

      WILLIAMSTON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS OPERATING MILLAGE PROPOSAL 2

      This proposal will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance.

      Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Williamston Community Schools, Ingham County, Michigan, be increased by 1 mill ($1.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 12 years, 2024 to 2035, inclusive, to provide funds for operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2024 is approximately $23,000 (this millage is to restore millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and will be levied only to the extent necessary to restore that reduction)?

      1. Who can vote in this bond proposal election?

      All residents of Williamston Community Schools who will be 18 years old or older on Election Day and are registered to vote, may vote in this election. Per Michigan Law, you can register to vote on election day at your local clerk’s office.

      1. Where can I get information about voting in Michigan?

      A great resource is the Michigan Secretary of State’s website, www.michigan.gov/vote or you can contact your local clerk’s office.

      1. I will be out of town, can I vote absentee?

      Yes, under Michigan law, you can vote by absentee ballot for any reason. You can request an absentee ballot from your local clerk’s office or visiting the Michigan Secretary of State’s website and clicking on “Absentee Voting”. Absentee ballots will be available by June 22nd and you can mail it or drop it off at your clerk’s office. You can even drop it off in person on election day! Or you can vote early in person, beginning July 7th.

      1. Where can I get more information?

      These FAQ’s will be updated as more questions accumulate from the community. Please check the district website at http://www.gowcs.net/page/3934 or you can call Superintendent Adam Spina at (517) 655-4361 or email him at spinaa@gowcs.net

August 6, 2024 Bond Proposal