Here is the link to the Blue Ribbon Facilities Committee Update that was shared last Thursday 12/7 with the 50 community and staff members in that group, and then again last night 12/11 at the televised Board meeting: https://docs.google.com/
presentation/d/1Xy- Sh4MXHU4ntKOfsy8_ o8motAgYXsLn4eRvnnXgjx0/edit? usp=sharing
If you’re interested in watching last night’s presentation, you can access it here: https://livestream.com/
accounts/3685210/events/ 7975043/videos/167120199 The Blue Ribbon report begins 20 minutes and 30 seconds into the board meeting.
The presentation discusses how the work of this group specifically addresses the Infrastructure and Technology quadrant of the GPPSS Strategic Plan. It then walks through the charge of the committee to answer these three 3 Overarching Questions:
- Plante Moran Cresa was engaged by the Board of Education to review building capacity based on the GPPSS’ guidelines, provide a 5-year enrollment pupil enrollment projection, and provide a 10-year capital plan for GPPSS. Is the Plante Moran Cresa facilities report credible and verifiable information that can be used to develop a sustainable facilities plan?
- What are the GPPSS footprint needs now, 5 years from now, and 10 years from now, for our educational programming?
- What funding is needed to sustain the educational program our community expects for its students and from its neighborhood schools?
With the Plante Moran Cresa (PMC) track record of over 99% accuracy in its enrollment projection work with other districts, the answer to the first question was a resounding yes from the committee. District and school enrollment figures (past, present, and projections) are included in our presentation, highlighting the loss of approximately 100 students for the past 6 years. That annual loss is projected to continue for the foreseeable future if we continue as is.
98% of the committee agreed there are critical needs. Building needs were also explored by building and across the district. PMC broke those into three categories: critical (replacement within 1-3 years), deferred maintenance (4-6 years), and property enhancement (7-10 years).
The critical needs alone are approximately $111 million. Funding mechanisms were discussed including general fund, enhancement millage, current sinking fund, and a new bond. Dr. Niehaus is recommending a critical needs bond be placed on the November 2018 ballot for approximately $111 million. It would be issued as a 20-year, non-qualified bond due to our excellent credit rating, and include two series (sold in 2019 and 2022). This would be a proposed increase of 1.5 mills to address roofing, masonry, plumbing, bathrooms, electrical, safety (secure vestibule entries), network infrastructure, backbone cabling, and energy/operational savings (lighting). These critical/deferred needs are NOT in the bond: no computers, tablets or end-user devices; no expansion of the district footprint; no water/sewer piping; no classroom furniture. Work done in the first phase would focus on buildings least likely to be closed due to declining enrollment. Dr. Niehaus also recommended a citizens/employee oversight advisory committee be established to ensure projects stay within the scope of the bond as approved by voters.
Enrollment declines will continue to be monitored by the board of education and administration, and any facility closures would get a year of advance warning using a closing rubric that would include school and overall district enrollment as well as boundary changes. Leasing portions of buildings such as the administration building will be pursued for now. Figures for operating buildings as well as real estate values are included in the portfolio of documents online (click the Blue Ribbon on the front page of the district site: https://mi01000971.
Creative ideas to enhance enrollment, and input on the presentation are welcome. Once updated, numerous Town Halls will be conducted this winter and spring. We encourage you to come, bring neighbors, and promote these informational sessions where the district will continue to listen to our staff and community as the plan develops.
No board action has been taken. A board vote on ballot language would be required by July of 2018 to be placed before voters in November.