Tecumseh schools submit two bond proposals to voters Nov. 8

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TECUMSEH — Safe, efficient and effective are the buzzwords surrounding two proposed Tecumseh School System Bonds that are on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Safe because the bond programs would allow the district to equip every school with modern security upgrades, including technological equipment and secure entrances.

Effective because elementary schools in the district, which are between 60 and 70 years old, would be consolidated into one new school.

Efficient because savings from efficiencies can flow into classrooms and provide competitive salaries for staff and faculty.

After the failure of a $75 million bond proposal that would extend the 7.2 mills that taxpayers were paying for under a 2000 bond in a special election in May, Superintendent Rick Hilderley and council went back to voters to see what they liked and disliked. The overwhelming majority of voters said they would support security measures in the district.

“The approach we’re taking this time around is safe, efficient and effective education and a strong focus on the safety part,” Hilderley said. “We listened to community feedback after the May vote, and they were pretty clear that anything security-related was fine with them.”

Hilderley and the board are proposing the same projects they sought in the last bond election, as they believe the items are district needs, but they are separating them into two separate bond proposals in this election.

The only things that were in the May proposal that would not be funded if these two new proposals were passed are the turf on the sports field and the locker room on that field. The grass field will be funded over the next two years from the general fund, and the district is looking at other ways to fund the locker room, whether through donations or other funding mechanisms.

The mechanical room water system at the Herrick Park Intermediate Learning Center in Tecumseh is pictured October 6, 2022. The Herrick Park building and the other three elementary schools in Tecumseh would be replaced with a new elementary school if voters approve the district proposal 1 in november 8.

Hilderley notes that capital improvements that are part of these bond programs cannot be funded from the district’s general fund that goes to programming and education. Conversely, anything passed through a bond program cannot be earmarked for salaries, programs, or education and can only be spent on capital improvements, a- he declared.

Proposal 1 is $62 million which would add 3.4 mills to the existing 3.6 mills that taxpayers are currently paying for for a total of 7 mills. The 7.2 mills taxpayers were paying in May fell to 3.6 mills in July. According to the proposal, there would be:

  • A new 135,000 square foot elementary building on the site of the Tecumseh Acres Early Learning Center.
  • Security entrance additions would be made to Tecumseh High School and Tecumseh Middle School at the main entrances.
  • An additional music classroom would be built in the secondary school. The Elizabeth R. Wilson Foundation raised over $500,000 from the Friends of Tecumseh Schools Orchestra for the addition of music.
Worn and damaged bricks at the Patterson Intermediate Learning Center in Tecumseh are pictured Oct. 6, 2022. The Patterson building and the three other elementary schools in Tecumseh would be replaced with a new elementary school if voters approve the district's Proposition 1 on Oct. november.

Proposition 2 is $26.5 and would add 1.4 mills to property tax bills. The following are part of the proposal:

  • A 10,000 square foot auxiliary gymnasium at Tecumseh High School.
  • Site improvements – including traffic flow changes, parking lot relocations and other safety improvements – at Tecumseh Middle School.
  • Improvements to Tecumseh Middle School’s interior infrastructure for security cameras, electrical systems and plumbing.
  • Pool repairs and upgrades to locker rooms, fixtures, plumbing, air quality and boilers.

If both proposals are accepted, the additions of 3.4 million and 1.4 million would equal 4.8 million. Add that to the existing 3.6 mills and taxpayers would pay 8.4 mills.

Owners of property with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay an additional $340 per year, or a total of $700, if only proposal 1 is accepted and an additional $140 per year, or a total of $500, if only proposal 2 is accepted. If both pass, that owner will pay an additional $480 per year, or $840 in total.

A total of $88.5 million would be raised if both proposals were adopted. Bonds sold if either proposal passes would be repaid over 30 years, depending on the language of the ballot.

The ceiling of the main entrance to the Patterson Intermediate Learning Center in Tecumseh is pictured Oct. 6, 2022. The Patterson building and the other three elementary schools in Tecumseh would be replaced with a new elementary school if voters approve District Proposal 1 on Oct. 8 november.

The renewal in May was for 7.2 mills and would not have resulted in new taxes. Residents would have continued to pay the same levy. Everything has gone up in price, which is why the bond would now be $88.5 million if both proposals pass, according to school district communications director Victor Pratt.

The district would save $1.3 million a year if it moved to just one elemental instead of four, Hilderley said, and operational savings over the next five years would be $18 million with the overall infrastructure improvements.

“Our rough estimate, which is quite conservative, is $1.3 million per year in savings to our overall budget. So that’s the efficiency part. And in terms of efficiency, all that money that we don’t have to spend on our small building infrastructure needs, that goes into the program and goes to raise our salaries when contracts are due and pay people the quality pay it allows us to get the quality people we need,” Hilderley said. “So those are the buzzwords, but there’s something behind all of them – safe, effective and effective.”

A hole in the ceiling of the mechanical room at the Patterson Intermediate Learning Center in Tecumseh is pictured Oct. 6, 2022. The Patterson Building and the other three elementary schools in Tecumseh would be replaced with a new elementary school if voters approve the district's Proposition 1 in November 8.

Early postal voting began on Thursday, September 29. The last day to register to vote online is Monday, October 24. the last day to request an online and mail-in ballot is until 5 p.m. on Friday, November 4

To avoid delays in mailing, it is recommended that you request a mail-in ballot no later than Monday, October 17. Residents can register to vote in person at their clerk’s office until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8. Eligible residents must provide official proof of residency. if they register to vote between October 25 and November 8. Residents can hand-deliver their absentee ballots to their designated drop box or local clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.

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