The South Lyon Community School District is asking for a bond referendum on Tuesday, May 5,
2015. The District has not asked for a bond issue since 2002, and this bond election will allow us to
maintain all of our outstanding facilities and support student learning by upgrading our technology.
Last fall our district enrolled 602 new kindergartners; our highest ever kindergarten enrollment.
Many new homes are being built and this trend will continue. A new elementary school is needed for
the 2017-18 school year since we are currently using 92% of our elementary classrooms. The
district has 10 empty elementary classrooms, and we anticipate those rooms to be utilized by the
2016-17 school year.
The Board of Education charged a Bond Facilities Committee to meet this past fall and make
recommendations to the Board regarding the content and dollar amount for the next bond issue,
working within the parameters that the bond issue cost will not raise the debt millage rate. When
making this recommendation, the committee recommended capital improvements to each of our
K-12 buildings and our Early Childhood Center, new technology equipment and infrastructure
(to improve our access speed and capacity), and the physical structure of a new elementary
school. The cost of the bond issue will be 64.4 million dollars, and again, we anticipate no increase
to our debt millage rate.
Our last bond issue was 13 years ago in 2002. The district has many capital projects that need to be
completed as well as the need for new technology equipment for students and staff. During the last
three years, our total student population has increased by 578 students, which is an 8.2% increase.
We are projecting another 7.3% increase in student enrollment in the next five years based on the
number of new housing developments in our district and using a ratio of .32 students for each new
house/condo. While the multiplier of .32 might be low, we want to guard against overestimating.
The South Lyon Community School District is recognized throughout Southeast Michigan as one of
the premier districts in the area. For example, an independent analysis was done that rated school
districts nationally on how much academic achievement a district produces for each dollar spent
relative to other districts in their state. According to this analysis, South Lyon Community Schools
was one of only 24 Michigan districts that received the highest rating out of the 502 districts in the
state. Also, we conducted our own analysis by taking total MEAP scores of each school district in the
five county area of southeastern Michigan and comparing them to total revenues generated by each
district. In this analysis, we placed 1st.
We take pride in how our schools are cleaned and maintained, the technology we have had available
for our students, and the quality effort our staff delivers daily in order to continue to provide a high
degree of student achievement. We would not be as successful as we are without the commitment
from our community with respect to passing bond issues so that we can continue to build on our
excellence. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com or 248.573.8105.
1. Board of Education Charge
It became apparent to the leaders of South Lyon Community Schools that a bond proposal
would be needed May of 2015. The focus was to build for student growth, sustain our
buildings, support student learning and maintain our secure and healthy learning
At the March 3, 2014 Board of Education meeting, the Board voted 7 to 0 to begin the
Bond process with the following Bond Facilities Committee charge and guiding principles:
The Bond Facilities Committee is charged with making recommendations to the Board of
Education regarding the content and dollar amount of the next bond issue, working within
the parameters that the bond issue cost will not raise the current tax rate. When making
this recommendation, the committee will consider the major components of the bond issue,
including but not limited to, capital improvements, new technology equipment and the
physical structure of a new elementary school.
The Facilities Committee recommendation will:
- Do first what is best for students.
- Support the district mission statement, guiding principles and curricula.
- Strive for equity of facilities, defined as not being the same, but rather as supporting common educational goals of the district, including safety and security.
- Support student learning through the integration of instructionally appropriate technology.
2. Survey of District Staff / Administrative Review Committee
In the spring of 2014 a survey was created for SLCS administrators and staff to identify
preliminary needs for the bond. This survey identified $80 million in comprehensive needs
for the district. Over the 2014 summer, this information was reviewed in its entirety by the
Architectural Review Committee (ARC). This review included visiting each school to inspect
and discuss items requested, confirming the estimated budget costs, identifying items that
could wait for future bond programs, and finalizing the items that would be presented to be
discussed and reviewed with the District Bond Committee.
3. District Bond Committee
The District Bond Committee began meeting September 4, 2014, with additional meetings
on October 2, October 16, and November 6. The committee was comprised of K-12
parents, teachers, three Board of Education members, and administration. The charge for
this committee was to review and discuss the proposed bond scope and, in the end, come
to consensus on the Bond recommendations to be presented and approved by the Board
of Education. This process concluded with the recommendation of a 64.4 million dollar
4. Board Action
The Bond proposal went to the Board of Education on December 1, 2014 for information.
On January 19, 2015, the Board voted unanimously to support the $64.4 million Bond
Proposal which will go to voters on May 5, 2015.
1. What is the best place to find information about the bond issue?
2. What is the bond amount?
The total bond issue is $64,400,000.
3. What are in the bond projects bundles?
Click here to see the bond projects summarized in bundles.
4. What are in the bond project summaries?
Click here to see all schools' proposed bond improvements or click on the individual
Kent Lake Elementary
Centennial Middle School
Millennium Middle School
South Lyon East High School
South Lyon High School
5. What are the construction timelines?
6. Can money from the bond program be used to pay wages and benefits of
No, it is against state law. Bond dollars cannot be used for operational expenses
such as employee salaries, repairs, maintenance, or energy costs. Bond program
funds must be accounted for separately from general operating funds.
7. Please explain what bond dollars can cover and what they can not.
Bond proceeds cannot be used for the following items:
- Salaries and wages
- General operating expenses and maintenance
- Classroom supplies and textbooks
Bond proceeds can be used for the following items:
- Construction and remodeling of facilities
- Purchase of technology equipment
- Equipment and furniture
- Site Improvements
No. We have a comprehensive preventative maintenance program that has been
nationally recognized, and our buildings are properly maintained. Some districts have
a sinking fund millage to pay for these types of improvements; South Lyon does not.
School district operating budgets are not meant to pay for large capital items such as
roofs, chillers, boilers and parking lots.
9. I’m not thrilled about supporting a bond issue that is needed because we are
growing so much. What is in this for my family?
Actually, we believe this bond issue would primarily benefit our existing students and
community. The majority of improvements in the bond issue would likely be requested
regardless of whether we were growing or not. Even the new school, which is a direct
result of our growth, does benefit our current students by avoiding the need for
significant boundary changes and will allow for more breathing space in schools that
are currently near capacity.
Additionally, it should be noted that new and future taxpayers will not only be paying
the debt associated with the new school, they will also be paying towards all other
existing debt. Using a pie analogy, the bigger the pie (tax base) the smaller each slice
needs to be (individual tax bill).
10. What happens if the bond doesn’t pass?
If the bond does not pass, the District will have to spend dollars that we use to operate
our buildings and hire staff. We must replace old boilers, roofs, etc., either through a
bond issue or from operational dollars. We are worried we will not be able to hire the
teachers we need for growth if we must take care of maintenance issues if the bond is
11. Why aren’t buses included in this bond issue? How are we going to buy buses
for the new elementary school?
The standing position of the Board of Education is that we do not ask voters to pay for
buses with a bond issue. The District set up years ago a separate fund for bus
purchases and financing that is funded by dollars transferred from the operating budget
(General Fund). We also have a ten year schedule for bus replacements for the
existing fleet and new buses that are needed for growth, including new schools.
ended up not occurring. Just five years later, we need another elementary
school. Can you explain this? *
As a result of the Great Recession, as part of the options to cut $4 million the Board of
Education looked at to balance the budget, the closing of an elementary school was
discussed. It was not done, since it would have required significant redistricting, it
would have been costly to bring the school back on-line in the future, and we were
thankfully able to find other budget solutions.
Unknown, at the time, was that in two short years we would be moving to all day
kindergarten. This took an additional 12 classrooms overnight (equivalent to ½ of an
entire elementary school). Also, in 2012 we started to grow significantly in student
enrollment. We have grown an additional 550 students in the last three years.
13. I heard that for the 2014-15 we had the largest kindergarten class ever.
Is this true? *
Yes. We had 603 kindergarteners in our official count. While it is difficult to say what
our count will be next fall, we do know that we have 414 registered so far from
kindergarten roundup for next year. Last year at this time we only had 395 enrolled.
14. Is this the largest bond issue the District has asked for? *
No. The prior two bond issues were larger. Specifically, the voters approved a
$98,850,000 bond in 2002 and also a $67,945,000 bond in 1999.
15. It has been thirteen years since the last bond issue. Shouldn’t the amount
of the bond be higher? *
The Board of Education and administration felt strongly that we did not want to ask
the voters for a bond issue that would increase the tax rate. While it is true that we
had bond requests in excess of $80,000,000, we believe that the $64,400,000 bond
request fully addresses the current needs of the District. Also, this is not a small bond
issue in scope. There is a substantial amount of projects that touch all school buildings
and all students.
New Elementary School (Click here to view slides from the Bond Presentation)
1. Why do we need a new elementary school?
The district currently has 10 open classrooms in our 7 elementary buildings. Assuming
5 new elementary teachers each of the next two years, the district will have no empty
elementary classrooms for the 2017-18 school year.
2. Was adding classrooms to our current elementary schools ever discussed as
the buildings where possible. We added 8 classrooms to Salem, the entire south wing
to Dolsen, and 12 classrooms to Sayre. We decided to add the Early Childhood
Center to the Bartlett site. After we added classrooms to our existing buildings, the
District began to build new elementary schools.
acreage to add more parking spaces and to expand the bus loop. We cannot add on
to Sayre, Kent Lake, Brummer, and Hardy because they are already 4-section schools,
which means they have 4 classrooms per grade level. Four-section elementary
schools are already very large buildings, and we do not know of a district that has a
five-section elementary school. Instead of making Bartlett a 4-section school, we
chose to add the Early Childhood Center east of the building.
3. How was the site for the new elementary school chosen?
South Lyon Community Schools owns two sites for future elementary schools. One
site is located on the Southwest corner of Dixboro and Eight Mile. The site the District
is proposing for a new elementary school is on the north side of Eleven Mile just west
of Milford Road. Since most of our student growth in the near future is in the
Northeast corner of our district, the Eleven Mile site is the chosen location for a new
Yes. During the last three years our student population has increased by 578 students,
which is an 8.2% increase. We are projecting another 7.3% increase in student
enrollment in the next 5 years based on the number of new housing developments in
our district and using a ratio of .32 students for each new house/condo. While the
multiplier of .32 might be low, we want to guard against overestimating.
5. If approved, when will construction of the new elementary school begin?
If the bond issue passes in May, we will design the building in the summer and fall of
2015 and go out for bids in the winter of 2016. The construction for a new elementary
school will begin the spring of 2016 and will take two summers to complete. The new
elementary school will be ready to open in the fall of 2017 when it will be needed.
Yes, after new boundaries are established for all 8 elementary schools (the 8th school
being the new elementary school).
Schools of choice will continue to be offered and should work very well when there is
much more student capacity at each elementary school starting in 2017-18 when the
new elementary school will open.
8. I thought the new school was going to be built, even if the bond didn't pass.
No. An approved voter bond issue is required in order to build a new school building.
Lowering class size will occur when the District allocates more money to hire
additional teachers that would lower the K-5 district average, which is currently at 25.5
for the 2014-15 school year. We plan to hire teachers as more students move into the
District, so we can keep the elementary class size average at 25.5. However, class
sizes could be higher if we do not have the classrooms available for hiring needed
10. I was talking with a parent today and she was saying that it would be nice to
see how our numbers looked before building Hardy and Kent Lake. Did the
numbers look similar to how they do now with only a few empty classrooms
throughout the district? Are those numbers still available?
Three of the 6 elementary schools were at 100% capacity for the 2003-04 school year,
which means major redistricting would have had to take place if Hardy was not opened
for the 2004-05 school year. Dolsen and Kent Lake had a couple of classrooms
available in 2003-04, but new teachers for growth would have taken some of them if
boundaries were not changed for the opening of Hardy. Salem had 2 rooms available
also. Six rooms at the 6 elementary schools were available; however, some of those
classrooms were utilized for preschool.
11. What will be the student capacity of the new elementary school? When do we
think we will need to add another elementary school? *
We would be building a four-section school (4 classrooms per grade) similar to
Brummer, Kent Lake and Hardy. We anticipate capacity at about 600 students.
Future student enrollment can be hard to predict, so it is difficult to say when an
additional elementary would be needed (the District already owns another elementary
site), but we don’t believe another elementary school will be needed for some time.
Early Childhood Center Additions (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. Why do we need to add on to the Early Childhood Center?
The current building is at capacity, and the needs for this demographic continue to
increase. Student growth is expected to continue in the 3%-5% range annually.
2. Why Is the Early Childhood Center important to the District?
Research has shown that investment in Pre-K programs has a significant positive
impact on future student achievement. In fact, this was one of the major initiatives
from Governor Snyder in the 2013-14 State Budget. As part of the State initiative,
more dollars have been added to these programs to meet the high demand.
Unfortunately, we do not have enough space in the current building to assist additional
families that need this program. Additionally, we continue to experience an increase in
our early childhood special education programs and need more classrooms to
accommodate their educational needs.
3. Why didn’t the District just make this building bigger when it was built in 2000?
As a rule, we have only built new buildings and additions when needed. This approach
avoids the District from overbuilding as well as burdening the taxpayer for something
that isn’t absolutely needed. However, since we knew growth would eventually
necessitate adding on to the Early Childhood Center, the existing building and site was
prepped to allow for easy extension of utilities and other building services, which saves
Elementary School Air Quality Improvements (Click here to view slides from Bond
1. Is there a simple chart that shows what the project will do?
Yes, click here to see before and after charts.
2. I understand the wisdom in upgrading the older elementary schools in
terms of air quality. My question is why is there an inequity?
Basically, it comes down to what building code was in existence when a school building
was built. The older elementary systems were indeed built based on the current code
at that time. As shown in the cost breakdown, to upgrade these systems to current air
quality standards is extensive and costly, but we believe it is very beneficial to our
students in those buildings.
3. I still don’t understand why this is so expensive.
There are a number of reasons. First, there are a lot of classrooms. Second, the 4
older elementary schools have classrooms with the old, under-the-window, univents.
Similar to what you might find at a motel, the unit is loud, and all the air is displaced
only at that location. The new unit would be energy efficient and would be placed in
the \corner of each classroom and would be much quieter. Third, duct work will be
added in the ceiling of each of the classrooms to ensure airflow is uniform throughout
the classroom. Fourth, the amount of air exchange will be 300% higher than the
current units provide. Additionally, as part of elementary school remodeling budget, a
new ceiling with new energy efficient lighting will be installed in each of these
classrooms, since the old ceiling will need to be taken down for the duct work.
4. Someone told me that you could have had air conditioning in Brummer and
Kent Lake Elementary by just turning on a switch. Is this true?
Absolutely not. While Brummer and Kent Lake were prepped for air conditioning in
terms of having the proper duct work installed and properly sized ventilation units,
the building wide infrastructure was not installed. To add air conditioning to the
classrooms, new chillers and mechanical equipment need to be added to provide the
cooled air into the classrooms.
5. I know air conditioning is a small portion of this project, but is it necessary?
We believe so. There are days in the summer, fall, and spring that are very warm and
the high temperature in classrooms (sometimes exceeding 85 degrees) are simply not
conducive to learning. Also, unlike in the past, we need to keep classroom windows
closed for security purposes and cannot open them to get some additional air flow for
relief. Additionally, we are one of the very few school districts in the area that don’t
have air conditioning in all their elementary schools.
6. Are we putting in air conditioning because we are planning for year round
No, but there are always talks in Lansing about extending the school year and/or
looking at year round schools. If this were to occur, having air conditioning would
be even more essential.
Elementary School Remodeling (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. What are the main components to the remodeling projects?
As discussed in the air quality improvements, impacted classrooms will have new
ceilings, lighting, and new casework to accommodate the new ventilation units.
Additionally, a portion of Dolsen’s corridor flooring would be replaced and there would
be media center remodeling/furniture at Salem and Sayre. Also, a new kitchen and
remodeled cafeteria are proposed for Bartlett Elementary.
2. Why is only the Bartlett Kitchen being remodeled?
This was considered for replacement in the last bond issue in 2002, however we
believed at the time that there was still some useful life left. This is the last original
kitchen that has not been upgraded in the older elementary schools. We believe some
of the components in this kitchen were installed when Elvis first hit the charts.
Special Education Remodeling (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. What are the main components to this project?
Our special education program continues to grow. We are proposing that there would
be remodeling work at Centennial Middle School to convert two spaces into a
cognitively impaired classroom, a sensory room, and cross categorical classroom to
help improve our program. At South Lyon High School, we propose converting the old
“Kiddie Corner” space, that is not being used currently, into a daily living classroom
and Post High School Program classroom.
Technology (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
There will be improvements to the district wide and local area network equipment and
infrastructure such as: network switches, fiber upgrades, cabling, servers, firewall and
wireless upgrades. Additionally, dollars are allocated to upgrade the majority of District
instructional technology based on educational needs as determined by the District's
The total cost is $4.2 million dollars, or about 6.5% of the total bond issue. The
following is the cost breakdown (in millions):
|Infrastructure / Network||$0.91|
|Student Interface Devices||$1.65|
3. Is the District giving a laptop or other device to each student as part of this bond
Currently, our average ratio of computer devices per student is at 1 to 1.9. We consider our
ratio to be robust and have chosen to invest any additional resources in other instructional
materials to support our curriculum. This approach continues to positively impact our high
4. I don’t want to be paying taxes for 25 years for computers that will be outdated
much sooner. How is this addressed in the bond issue?
The District is required by law to pay off the equivalent amount of bond debt for all
categories based on the useful life of the asset when placed into service. For major capital
items like buildings, the equivalent bond debt is required to be paid off within 40 years. For
short life technology (computers, peripherals) the timeframe is 5 years.
While this is a major update of technology, we have some existing technology that is still
effective and working well. We also will continue to purchase some equipment through the
District’s operating and school building budgets as well as PTO’s support, as we have in
6. Will the District operating budget still continue to pay for some technology
Yes, we will continue to purchase some refurbished computers where appropriate to save
dollars, as well as other items such as replacement printers, scanners, and monitors. We
will continue to pay for all software costs out of the operating budget.
We keep computer equipment for usually 5-7 years. We purchase a three year warranty on
new computers and then we extend the life with proper technician support as well as by
adding components to increase the life span. Additionally, we purchase some refurbished
computers at a fraction of the cost. For these reasons, leasing computers would not be
cost effective for the District. Furthermore, leased computers cannot be purchased
with bond dollars.
Security (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. I know that the District has made a significant investment in school building
security already. How was this able to be done without a bond issue?
It was critical to improve our security in terms of outside access to our school buildings, and
we simply couldn’t wait. Additionally, these costs were spread over two fiscal years to better
manage the project and the allocation of financial resources.
2. Why can’t the District continue to pay for security upgrades with operational
The proposed additional improvements at $1.8 million are significantly more costly than the
outside access security improvements that have already been made, and there are not
available dollars in the operating budget for a project of this significance.
Infrastructure Improvements (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. There is about $5 million budgeted in the bond for infrastructure improvements.
Can you please highlight the major areas of need?
We have many boilers, chillers, and roof top units that are at the end of their useful life and
need to be replaced in order to make sure school buildings continue to be heated and
cooled. Obviously, this is an essential need. Also, the new units will be more energy
efficient, which will save District operating dollars. There are also other key needs, such as
generators, exterior doors, and some athletic improvements.
2. Why aren’t there more carpet replacements in this bond issue?
We do have a portion of the second floor of SLHS that is in need of carpet replacements.
Regarding other carpet replacements, such as in classrooms, while they could be bondable,
we have a flooring replacement schedule that we fund each year to allow for replacements
of classroom carpeting when needed. We believe this approach saves taxpayer dollars,
versus replacing all classroom carpeting in a bond issue, whether needed or not.
Roofing Improvements (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. Why are there so many roof replacements?
They have simply come to the end of their useful lives. As with parking lots, we are only
proposing to replace the roofs, or portions of roofs, that are in need. It should be noted
that the District has performed, and will continue to perform, annual roof inspections to help
catch problems early. A lot of maintenance has been done to make sure we receive the full
useful life of each roof.
Site/Athletic Remodeling / Replacements (Click here to view slides from Bond
1. What are the main components to this category?
This includes significant parking lot replacements, improvement to exterior school building
lighting, replacement of some hard surface play areas and walkways, correct areas of
standing water, recoat/resurface some tennis courts and outside tracks, replace SLHS
artificial stadium field, add wheelchair ramp at SLEHS and restructure visitor bleachers.
2. Why does the SLHS artificial stadium field need replacement?
To date, we have been fortunate in that this field has lasted 15 years, when the normal
useful life is 10-12 years. This is attributed to a well designed field with good drainage,
as well as comprehensive and ongoing maintenance.
3. Please explain more about the parking lot replacements and lighting changes.
There are a significant amount of pavement replacements; however, these replacements
are only proposed for areas of true need. In some cases, this is only a section of a parking
lot. Regarding the lighting, since much of this lighting is old and inefficient,
it makes sense to update while the lots are being torn up and replaced.
Performing Arts Improvements (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
Why are SLHS theatre improvements included in the bond proposal?
Many portions of the SLHS theatre are original (purchased/installed in 1989). These
improvements are not only needed, but will better place the theatre in line with the SLEHS
Food Service Improvements (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
What is involved with these improvements?
In support of the new kitchen for Bartlett, some new equipment must be purchased. Also,
Bartlett is the only school that must roll out the serving line daily. The proposed
improvement would create a new permanent serving line. Also, an additional serving line is
proposed to be added to Sayre Elementary to allow the lunch program operation to meet
the large number of students being served.
Furniture and Equipment (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. What are the major pieces of equipment that are proposed to be added or
This includes furniture and student equipment for ECC classroom expansions, updates to
SLHS world language lab, photography and robotics equipment, teacher desk replacements
at SLHS, and Post High School furniture for SLHS.
2. Why isn’t there more equipment requests for this bond issue?
Generally, school buildings are expected to replace their student classroom furniture
through their annual building budget. This not only reduces the amount the District would
need to request in a bond issue, it also allows for the furniture to be replaced when
needed and allows for generally consistent furniture in each building.
TAXPAYER IMPACT (Click here to view slides from Bond Presentation)
1. Will passage of the bond result in a property tax rate increase?
If the bond issue is passed by the voters, it is expected that the debt millage rate will not
increase beyond the current 9.70 mills. This is possible for two reasons. First, older debt
is being retired (for example, the debt associated with the original construction of South
Lyon High School was paid off in 2014), which provides additional bonding capacity.
Second, the overall taxable value of the School District has been increasing, due in large
part by new construction, which essentially results in spreading the debt burden to more
Conversely, if there was no bond issue, the debt millage rate would be reduced. This is
again due to the two reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. The chart below shows
the debt millage rate for the past few years, as well as what the expected millage rate would
be for the future, with and without the impact of the bond issue.
2. I understand that the millage rate shouldn’t increase, but what is the impact on my
You would take the taxable value of your home (usually represents no more than 50% of
your home’s value) and divide by 1,000, and then multiply by the school debt millage rate.
For example, if your taxable value in 2014-15 was $100,000 (market value of $200,000),
your taxes for school debt millage this year was $970. Assuming your home value is
increasing, your taxable value for 2015-16 can only go up by inflation (1.6%) or 5%,
whichever is less. This would translate into a taxable value of $101,600 for 2015-16.
Therefore, your school debt millage taxes would be $986 if the bond issue passed. If it did
not pass, your taxes would go down to $935. So essentially, if the bond issue passed you
would be forgoing a tax cut of $51 for the 2015-16 year. This gap would vary year to year
(see chart above).
3. Is it possible that the debt millage rate will exceed the current 9.70 mills in the
It is doubtful, but it is possible in the event of a major event such as another Great
Recession or a Depression. The 9.70 mill limit is based on overall future taxable value
growth in the school district of 4.5% for the next three years, 4.0% in years 4-5, and then
3% growth thereafter. For reference, the taxable value of the district grew 5.6% in 2014.
Based on preliminary numbers, we expect to meet or exceed the 5.6% number in 2015
(even though we are still assuming 4.5%). To the extent that the taxable value grows
beyond the 4.5% average budgeted for the next three years, it will reduce the growth that is
needed for subsequent years, and/or will result in the 9.70 mills dropping sooner than
anticipated. As a frame of reference, even including the taxable value crash associated with
the Great Recession, the District has still averaged a 4.5% average taxable value growth
rate from 2000 – 2014. Prior to the Great Recession affecting taxable values in 2009, the
average taxable value growth rate of the District from 2000 – 2008 was 8.8%.
4. What is the impact of the current low interest rate environment in regard to the
It is an absolute positive. Similar to home mortgage rates, the municipal bond market rates
are very low. We are projecting that the majority of bonds will be sold in July of 2015 at an
average interest rate of 4.5% for the 25 year bonds. If the interest rate was 6.0%, for
example, interest costs to the taxpayers would increase by over $15,000,000.
5. Please explain the process of how the money flows in a bond issue.
To use this bond issue as an example, in the event the question is passed by the voters,
the first step would be to sell the bonds on the municipal market. There are a lot of steps
to this process, including structuring the bond maturity schedule (with the help of legal
counsel and financial advisors), preparing an Official Statement, receiving a bond rating,
and holding the actual sale. Also, the bonds are anticipated to be sold in two different
sales, one in 2015 and one in 2017 as part of the overall structure to keep the debt millage
rate at or below the current 9.70 mills.
Once bonds are sold, the proceeds are wired to the District and these funds are placed into
a separate capital project fund, from which all project costs will be paid. Additionally, a
“draw schedule” is prepared that identifies when dollars are needed on a monthly basis.
This draw schedule will allow the District to invest the proceeds with maturities that mirror
the draw schedule. With low short term interest rates, this is not expected to be a large
amount of money, but every bit helps. This capital project fund will remain open and active
until all projects are completed and contractors are paid. It is expected that the capital
project fund would be closed sometime in 2018-2019.
Conversely, the bond proceeds will need to be paid back to the purchasers of the bonds.
This is accomplished by setting up another separate fund called a debt service fund.
There are two main functions to this fund. First, the annual principal and interest payments
to the bond holders are paid out of this fund. Second, the associated debt millage rate is
assessed to the taxpayers annually in order to fund this annual payback. As mentioned
earlier, even though there is debt millage associated with this bond issue, other debt
service funds require less millage (due to their lowering payment schedule), resulting in no
overall increase. Unlike the capital project fund, the debt service fund will remain open until
all the bonds have been paid back. This is expected to be no later than 2039-2040.
In general terms, the process is similar to building a home and procuring a mortgage with
your bank. It should be noted that none of these proceeds can be used for on-going
operating costs of the District including such items as wages, benefits, utilities, and building
6. How will the bond proposal appear on the ballot?
Click here to see the actual bond ballot language that will be placed before the voters on
May 5, 2015, along with additional information in italics.
7. I see that the ballot language indicates a net 0 mill increase, but what are the 1.12
mills and 1.60 mills mentioned in the language?
Essentially, the 1.12 mills and 1.60 mills represent the estimated reductions in the current
9.70 mills (for the first year and the overall average) if there was no bond issue.
8. Why are we currently at a 9.7 tax rate as compared to other district rates that may
While it may seem like a very straightforward issue, there are many things at play.
First, is the tax base. South Lyon Community Schools is a bedroom community. That is,
that our District’s tax base is primarily residential. In fact, over 75% of our tax base is
categorized as residential. What this means is that a significant portion of our tax base
comes with children. The portion that is not residential (Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural)
still pay their portion of the taxes, but they do not add any children to the system.
Comparing this to a district like Southfield that has only a 36% residential portion of tax
base (essentially, 64% of their tax base does not produce any students), the result is that a
district like Southfield can produce more dollars per mill, due to a large amount of non-
residential properties and, therefore, do not need as high of a debt millage rate. If the tax
base of South Lyon Community Schools was similar to Southfield’s, then our debt millage
would only need to be 4.79 mills versus the current 9.70 mills.
Second, is the age of our buildings. Five of our 12 school buildings have been built brand
new within the past 16 years. Of the other 7 buildings, all but one has received new
additions since 1992. Obviously, new construction is more costly to taxpayers than being in
a district with primarily older buildings. While older buildings can certainly have a lot of
charm, those buildings are not required to be brought up to current code standards.
Third, is the State’s School Bond Loan Program. Historically, school districts have had the
ability to borrow money from the State of Michigan to help make their bond principal and
interest payments, which resulted in a lower initial debt millage rate to its taxpayers. The
rule is that a participant in the program must levy at least 7 mills. That is why there are a
large amount of districts throughout the state that levy exactly 7 mills. The problem, of
course, is that the district must now pay the State interest on the amount they lent the
district, essentially paying interest twice. The result is that the district must continue to
levy 7 mills for a significant period of time. Conversely, districts that do not participate in the
program (like SLCS) would start with a higher debt millage rate, but it would be reduced
Additionally, while SLCS has a higher debt millage than many districts in our area, some of
the low debt mill districts have a sinking fund or hold harmless millage that more than makes
up the difference. Using Southfield again as the example, while their debt millage is only
3.50 mills, they have a hold harmless millage of 17.63 mills, or a total of 21.13 mills
compared to our 9.70.
1. What is the operating budget as it relates to a bond issue?
The District’s operating budget, or General Fund, accounts for the day to day activities of
a school district. It pays for all wages, benefits, utilities, supplies, textbooks, services, etc.
It is legally separate from a bond issue, which has its own set of accounts. Click here to
see related portion of bond presentation.
3. Will there be increased costs to operate/maintain the new elementary school and
improvements district wide, and is the district financially prepared to meet them?
Yes and yes. The new elementary school is expected to require about $600,000 annually
to operate. These dollars are already included in the District’s Five Year Financial
Forecast. Additionally, while a much smaller impact, the estimated costs and savings
related to other improvements are also included in the Five Year Forecast.
4. Will the bond issue take money away from instructional expenses?
The bond issue will not take money away from instruction, since dollars have already been
set aside in the five year financial forecast. Actually, money will be taken away from
instruction if the bond issue does not pass because there are major capital projects that
must be completed and those dollars will come out of the general fund which will take
money away from instruction.
1. When was the last time the District presented a bond proposal to local voters and
what did it entail?
South Lyon Community Schools' last bond issue vote was in the fall of 2002; 13 years ago.
This bond issue allowed the District to build South Lyon East High School and the Griswold
Operations Center, which operates the district’s transportation, technology, maintenance/
custodial services and includes a district warehouse. We also made some capital
improvements to schools and purchased technology equipment for student and teacher use.
2. What are some of the key demographics of the District? (sq. mile size, percentage
developed, students, municipalities covered)
In 1990 the South Lyon Community Schools consisted of 4,253 students, and in the fall of
2014 the district student enrollment was 7,658 students, which is an 80% increase. Over the
past three years, our district enrollment has increased by 578 students. By working with
Lyon Township, the City of South Lyon, and the City of Novi (Novi homes that reside within
the South Lyon Community Schools boundaries), we anticipate 1764 new houses/condos in
the next 5 years. We believe, at the minimum, these new developments will increase our
student enrollment to 8,218 by the fall of 2019.
1. Why is a May vote preferred to a November vote?
The District did not want to place the issue on the November 2014 ballot as the District
wanted to have the most current data for student and taxable value growth projections.
A May vote was needed so if the bond issue passes in May, we will be able to design the
building in the summer and fall of 2015. The ideal time to go out for school construction
bidding is in the winter of 2016 . The construction for a new elementary school will begin the
spring of 2016 and will take two summers to complete. The new elementary school will be
ready to open in the fall of 2017 when it will be needed.
Delaying the May 2015 vote to November 2015 does not allow for the proper design and
bidding timeframes to provide for construction to start the following year, and would delay
the new elementary school by another year.
2. What are the key dates leading up to the May 5, 2015 bond vote?
Final day to register to vote…………………………….….Monday, April 6, 2015
Final day to pick up Absentee Ballot……….2:00 p.m. - Saturday, May 2, 2015
Election Day…………………………………………….…..Tuesday, May 5, 2015
3. Where do I register to vote?
Are You Registered? To vote in the May 5, 2015, bond program election, you must
be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age by Election Day, a resident of Michigan and
the South Lyon Community Schools District. Please visit your city clerk/township to register
to vote, or visit any Secretary of State office.
You must be registered 30 days prior to an election to be eligible to vote. The official "last
day to register" for the May 5, 2015 election is Monday, April 6, 2015. Printable voter
registration forms are available on the state website, www.michigan.gov/vote.
NOTE: First-time voters MUST vote in person if they registered to vote by mail or on-line
4. What is the procedure for absentee voting? How do I get an absentee voter
Your request for an absentee voter ballot must be in writing and can be submitted to your
city or township (for assistance in obtaining the address of your city or township clerk,
see the Michigan Voter Information Center).
Your request must include one of the six statutory reasons and your signature. You must
request an absentee voter ballot by sending the application, application (large print)
a letter, a postcard, or a pre-printed application form obtained from your local clerk's office
to your local clerk. Requests to have an absentee voter ballot mailed to you must be
received by your clerk no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election.
Once your request is received by the local clerk, your signature on the request will be
checked against your voter registration record before a ballot is issued. You must be a
registered voter to receive an absentee voter ballot. Requests for absentee voter ballots
are processed immediately. Absentee voter ballots may be issued to you at your home
address or any address outside of your city or township of residence.
Note: Once absentee ballots are available, you can walk into your clerk’s office, receive an
absentee application, fill it out, and immediately be given your ballot to cast your vote.
5. How do I find out where my voting precinct is?
Find Your Clerk
How do I register to vote?
In addition, the following State agencies offer voter registration services to their clients:
Department of Human Services, the Department of Community Health and the Department
of Career Development. Military recruitment centers also provide voter registration services.
1. Click here to view the entire bond presentation.
2. Email Bill Pearson, Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him at 248-573-8105
if you have additional questions or would like to schedule a group presentation.
3. The following public forums are being held for the bond issue.
March 12, 2015 at Millennium Middle School Cafeteria at 7:00 p.m
April 16, 2015 at Millennium Middle School Cafeteria at 7:00 p.m..