MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – On Michigan’s upcoming May 3 Election Day, voters in NICE Community Schools’ district will decide whether to approve the school’s long-running sinking fund millage for another ten years. Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine says the millage will stay the same as it has been up to this point, but legislation passed since the last millage was adopted prevents the school from calling it a renewal.
“What a sinking fund does is it allows us to spend that money that is collected by the sinking fund millage on our buildings and our facilities, infrastructure, and things like that so that our general fund could go back into our classrooms for things like curriculum and salaries and wages,” DeAugustine said. “The sinking fund cannot be spent on those items. It can only be spent on construction, building projects, and technology.”
If it passes, the new millage will run from January 1, 2024 through December 31, 2033, collecting about $950,000 per year for the school.
DeAugustine says the school has a master plan with a list of projects the school prioritizes each year with funds from the millage. Should the proposal fail, DeAugustine says some projects will need to be placed on the backburner, which could cause issues as the school continues to grow.
“Some of our upcoming projects include totally renovating our Westwood High School cafeteria and our industrial arts wing, including our welding lab, our woodshop, and our automotive lab,” DeAugustine said. “And those are courses in part of our facility that’s really important. We have a high number of students who pursue a career in technical education.”
Additional plans affect Aspen Ridge School, which houses the district’s elementary and middle schools. The school hopes to renovate Aspen Ridge’s cafeteria as well, and has plans to make additions to the school as it grows.
“It’s an investment back into our kids,” DeAugustine said. “And the money we spend on our sinking fund projects, that’s putting it back into the community through things like equipment purchases and the labor that’s required to make sure that our buildings are up and running and our campus is beautiful each year. We have contractors coming in and doing the work, of course, and so the money gets injected back into our local economy.”
Residents within the district can enter their precinct information on the Secretary of State website here to read the exact language of the proposal’s tax millage information.