WHITEFISH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJMN) – Rural schools in Michigan often face issues that schools in highly populated areas usually wouldn’t, such as having basic security equipment to protect students and staff or even having enough classroom space. These are things that Whitefish Township Community Schools is asking community members to vote yes on its bonding proposal for the May 4 election.
The $1.38 million dollar bonding proposal would build a bus garage, equip an addition to the school building for a secure entry, district office, a new science lab, installing an emergency generator, acquiring instructional technology, and preparing, developing, and improving the school.
This bond is a no-net increase renewal, which means those within Whitefish Township will not be paying more than what they have been since the 2012 school bond, which is expiring soon.
The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2022 is 1.22 mills or $1.22 on each $1,000 of taxable values. The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding is 22 years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 1.19 mills.
“There are all kinds of ways we could’ve approached this, from renovating to starting over to the approach that we took that wasn’t going to increase the tax burden on our community. We’re thankful for everything we get from them. We know this is a big ask, especially with entering our second year of a pandemic,” said McKee.
At the beginning of the school year, the schools had to turn away 30 new students due to not having enough classroom space or resources. The nearest schools are about an hour and a half drive, either to Brimely or Newberry schools.
And over the recent few years, the schools were also able to purchase two buses on their own, but do not have a bus garage to store them.
“We have two brand new buses, but seven months out of the year, they sit out in snowbanks, so we’re just trying to protect the assets that the school has invested in,” said McKee.
Because Whitefish Township Community Schools is an isolated school district, they do not receive per-pupil funding from the state. They rely on 22d funding, state funding specifically allocated for isolated and smaller schools. However, they also rely on local taxes, which helps staff the school’s eight staff members. One “perk” from their funding allows them to hire a part-time custodian.
“These are luxury items for us,” said McKee.
Below is the pamphlet by Whitefish Township Community Schools for the bonding proposal:
To learn more where you can vote on May 4 or see what’s on your ballot, click here.