FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
2019 SCHOOL BOND PROPOSAL &
SINKING FUND RENEWAL
1. What is on the November 5, 2019 ballot?
There are two Novi Community School District (NCSD) proposals on the November ballot. The first asks voters to consider a $185 million bond for a wide range of projects, including educational facilities and program enhancements, new learning opportunities, 21st Century technology, safety/security enhancements, and upgrades to our infrastructure and equipment. The Sinking Fund renewal will be a continuation of the current sinking fund millage structured to support critical repairs and upgrades to facilities throughout the District.
2. How was this plan developed?
- NCSD Administration has been engaged in a long-term facility and infrastructure planning initiative to maximize operational efficiencies, preserve building infrastructure and support a culture of academic excellence and success for all students.
- An assessment of building conditions was completed on behalf of the district by Plante Moran Cresa in 2018 and included a review of all District facilities and sites from a conditional perspective. McCarthy Smith, along with District Facilities’ personnel reviewed the study to validate the priorities and associated costing.
- As part of the focus, NCSD Administration convened a Facility and Program Committee (FPC) led by a non-biased third party facilitator to work directly with NCSD administrative leaders and the district’s professional team to review and analyze Novi Schools’ facilities and propose a recommendation to the Board of Education for necessary upgrades/improvements to the District facilities, sites, and educational environments. NCSD Administration recruited a cross section of citizens from the NCSD’s community who were stakeholders both in the success of the education of Novi students and in maintaining the excellence of our school district. FPC, involving 32 community members, included people from diverse locations, roles and connections in the community and included NCSD parents, students, business owners, educators, and staff.
- The FPC dedicated more than 300 hours in developing this plan. During four steering committee meetings, the FPC listened and learned about the ‘state of NCSD facilities and programs’ and also learned about modern learning environments. The committee then prioritized Guiding Principles, which were tenets to guide their thinking as they began the rigorous process of analyzing concepts and ideas to meet those principles. They also learned about the financial picture regarding a future bond program. As a final step, two community engagement sessions were led by a non-biased third party facilitator to gain feedback on the direction the committee was considering. A number of ideas, concepts and estimates were vetted in the process.
- On June 20, 2019, the Facility and Program Committee presented its findings and recommendation to the Board and on July 25, 2019, the Board unanimously supported placing the $185 million bond initiative on the ballot. Subsequently, on August 8, 2019 the Board voted to place the Sinking Fund renewal proposal on the ballot. The combined proposals would result in a 0.25% decrease to the current debt millage rate.
3. What are the features of the Nov. 5 Bond proposal?
The plan touches every building across the District and includes enhancing safety and security throughout the school district, modernizing our classrooms and addressing imminent infrastructure issues at all facilities. Specific program upgrades at each facility are included in a list at the back of the FAQ document.
Other major projects include:
- Addition to and renovation of the existing Novi Meadows 5th and 6th grade building to modernize and expand classrooms and unify the 5/6 educational environment
- Renovation of the remaining 5th and 6th grade wings to house a Center-based special needs program, the Adult Transition Center and Novi Community Education
- Infrastructure and educational program upgrades to all elementary schools, middle school, high school, Early Childhood Education Center and other district facilities identified in the concept plans
- Robotics Program Space
- New Novi Community Schools Activity Center
- Infrastructure upgrades to the Educational Services Building, Maintenance and Transportation Buildings
- Technology upgrades and replacement
4. What is the difference between a bond proposal and a sinking fund millage?
A bond is a lump-sum dollar amount that a school district borrows through the sale of bonds to fund large capital facility improvement projects. The district pays the bond money back over a period of years with interest--similar to a home mortgage--with funds generated by a debt millage. This provides the district with the ability to fund major capital projects and program improvements without an impact to the general fund.
A sinking fund millage is a limited property tax, considered to be a pay-as-you-go method for addressing smaller building upgrades and improvements. No debt or interest payments are incurred with a sinking fund. A district can levy a sinking fund millage for a limited number of years, as provided in the ballot proposal. NCSD currently has a .4731 mill sinking fund that generates approximately $1.1 million annually. These funds are necessary to keep district buildings in good repair and operation.
We are grateful the NCSD community previously supported a 10-year sinking fund, which has funded critical projects throughout the school district. The sinking fund addresses the most urgently needed upgrades in the school district. Given that our older buildings are over 55 years old, sinking fund dollars are not adequate to address major updates and capital improvements. Additionally, unlike the bond program, sinking fund dollars may not be used for classroom furniture, instructional technology or equipment purchases.
5. In recent years, Novi Community School District voters have supported two bond proposals and a sinking fund renewal. Why do we need this bond proposal?
With the past two bond issues, the District was able to address the issue of equity among schools. The 2007 bond addressed security and instructional technology in all schools, and completed additions and renovations to improve equity across K-4 buildings. The 2014 bond continued to address security and technology in all buildings. Classroom additions were built to accommodate increasing enrollment. HVAC, lighting, electrical, and roofing were upgraded or replaced. An Early Childhood Education Center and a High School Fitness Center were built. Upgrades were made to the High School auditorium and athletic sites. Classroom furniture, musical instruments, aging buses and carpet were replaced across the District.
An in-depth understanding of program deficiencies and curricular goals was necessary to determine how to best make use of existing facilities and to identify where there was a need to augment those facilities with renovations and/or additions to align with the district’s strategic plan and sustain safe and modern learning environments. The proposed bond touches every building across the District and includes enhancing safety and security throughout the school district, modernizing our classrooms and addressing imminent infrastructure issues at all facilities.
6. How will the bond proposal impact students and the community?
In the spring of 2019, the District updated its Strategic Plan and identified four focus areas: communication, academics, mental health and personnel. It is the district’s goal to continue to improve and expand our educational facilities and programs to optimize the school day experience for students, teachers, and staff at all levels to ensure that students are passionate, empowered, and prepared for their world and their future. To do this, our mission states that we will provide impactful opportunities for all to cultivate lifelong learning. To address our vision and mission, we must continue to create opportunities for our students, staff and community so that our schools and community remain a DESTINATION FOR EXCELLENCE.
7. How will the addition to Meadows 5-6 building benefit students and the community?
The addition to Meadows will improve the school environment for a wide range of students and community members:
- The 5th and 6th grades will occupy a single contiguous school that will unify the building and improve access to services for all students.
- Special needs students who are currently bussed to other districts will be served in their home district.
- Young adults in the Adult Transition Center will have appropriate classroom space that meets current standards.
- Classrooms will be available for adult education including High School Completion and ESL.
- Adequate space will be available for Staff Training and Development sessions.
8. Where will 5th and 6th graders go to school while Novi Meadows is being expanded?
The addition to Meadows will be constructed in open space adjacent to the existing building and will be completed in phases. The students will occupy the existing building while the addition is built. Once the Addition is complete, 5th and 6th graders will move in and the existing buildings will be vacated for renovation.
9. How will the new Novi Activity Center, at the high school, benefit students and the community?
The activity center will serve students and community members alike supporting the following activities:
- Marching band practice
- Youth athletic offerings
- Community walk/run
- Novi High School student body assemblies
- Robotics competitions
- District-wide staff meetings and professional development
- Community Event space
- Athletic practice and competitions
- Softball / Baseball
- Rental space
10. How will Robotics Program Space benefit students and the community?
The robotics program space will improve the school environment for a wide range of students and community members:
- Flexible Space
- Accommodates elementary, middle, and high school teams
- Accessibility to specialized equipment and spaces within existing high school
- Ease of access after hours
- Adjacent storage
- Ability to use outdoor space
- Sized to allow regional competitions
- Architectural image with glass to highlight importance of robotics (interior & exterior)
11. What are the educational technology features of the Nov. 5 bond proposal?
Upgrade/replace student and staff computers
- Replace current student Chromebooks and expand student access
- Allocate funds to end of bond to refresh computers and Chromebooks as part of 8-10 year plan
- Replace classroom projectors and interactive whiteboards with longer-lasting interactive flat panel displays
- Install classroom sound amplification systems
- Upgrade/replace classroom document cameras
- Ensure every building has projectors for assemblies and evening events
- Upgrade/replace video production equipment
- Provide consistent digital signage district-wide
- Upgrade/replace network and wireless infrastructure for speed and capacity
- Extend network and wireless to athletic stadiums
- Replace data center equipment
- Upgrade/replace phone system
- Upgrade/replace public address and clock systems
- Infrastructure and equipment related to building additions
12. Why have the site, location, and size of the Novi Activity Center and the Robotics Program Space not been determined?
The exact plan/concept for the placement and design of the Robotics Program space and the multi-purpose Activity Center will continue to be studied by the District with further input from stakeholders, including staff, community members, and the professional team.
13. What is “active learning space” and why is it important in schools today?
Collaborative or active learning space within a school allows students to learn effectively in groups, encouraging each other to ask questions, explain and justify their opinions, articulate their reasoning, and elaborate and reflect upon their knowledge. The teacher acts as a facilitator, helping students with their research and guiding them through the learning process.
We have found this to be beneficial in helping students learn effectively and efficiently versus more traditional independent learning alone. Some positive results from collaborative learning activities have been documented in research and include:
- students are able to learn more material by engaging with one another and making sure everyone understands
- students retain more information from thoughtful discussion
- students have a more positive attitude about learning and about each other by working together
To create active learning space, we need to provide the resources for information processing, collaboration, assistance, and management of the learning activities. These include technology, flexible furniture that allows for different configurations, appropriate lighting, acoustical control and finishes.
14. Why aren’t building plans complete and what is the anticipated timing for projects in this program?
The detailed design of a building program is costly and will not be completed for practical/financial reasons unless the bond and sinking fund proposals are approved by the community. Design details for major projects in this program will take the team months of work with input from staff, community members, and other professionals. The District’s intent is to move as quickly and intentionally as possible, anticipating an immediate start with addressing safety & security initiatives. Programming and concept development for major projects would also begin shortly after successful passage.
15. Why is it important to attract and retain students in the school district?
Public schools in Michigan receive operating funds on a per-pupil basis. While NCSD enrollment has gradually increased year over year, attracting and retaining students is critical. The quality of our programs and facilities plays a role in both of these areas. If approved by the voters, the bond program would upgrade facilities to support updated teaching methods, improve operational efficiencies in our facilities, provide progressive learning environments, and protect and maintain the community’s past investment in our school buildings. Parents have choices regarding where their children will receive an education. It is the intent of the District and Board of Education to maintain its reputation for providing quality programs and facilities in order to attract and retain students.
16. How are neighboring districts addressing the aging condition of their school buildings?
Neighboring districts have experienced the same issue of continually aging buildings. Bond programs have been approved and implemented all around us, including Northville Public Schools with $104.85 million in 2017, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools with $316 million in 2019, Waterford Schools with $100 million in 2016, Farmington with 131.5 million in 2015, and Huron Valley Schools to vote on $182 million in November 2019. In today’s competitive environment, districts seek every advantage.
17. What is the estimated cost breakdown for the bond and sinking fund projects?
Costs associated with the projects identified in 2019 Bond and Sinking Fund program are allocated across the five major focus areas in the following manner.
18. How much would the bond proposal and the renewal of the Sinking Fund cost the average taxpayer?
It is estimated that if voters approve the bond proposal, the current millage rate of 7.0 mills would be reduced to 6.75 mills. Thus, it is estimated that there will be a decrease of .25 mills from the current millage rate. The Sinking Fund millage at .4731 would be renewed at that rate, resulting in zero change to taxpayers. The net result of both proposals passing is a .25 mill decrease to the tax rate.
19. Can I deduct these property taxes on my income tax return?
Property taxes may be deductible as itemized deductions on your federal income tax return if you itemize. You may also be eligible for the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit on your Michigan income tax return. Please consult with your tax preparer.
20. What exactly is the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit?
The Michigan homestead property tax credit is a method through which some taxpayers can receive a tax credit for an amount of their property tax that exceeds a certain percentage of their household income. This program establishes categories under which homeowners or renters are eligible for a homestead property tax credit. Please consult with your tax preparer to determine if you are eligible for this important and valuable tax credit.
21. Economically, is this a good time for a bond proposal?
The District is able to meet current and future facility needs at a projected decrease to the current debt millage rate. Assessment items that were identified in the recent Facilities Audit were prioritized due to their age and end of useful life. These items will not disappear; they will only worsen with age, as the consultant indicated in the aging charts. In addition, construction costs recently have been rising after hitting very low points a few years ago. Delaying these improvements may result in higher construction costs in the future. Current interest rates on school bonds are near historic lows. If approved by the voters, the District would have to pay a smaller amount of interest to bond holders for the bonds than it would at another time should rates hold, thus maximizing taxpayer benefit. The value and vitality of a community often rests on the quality and marketability of its schools. A bond program can provide opportunities for local contractors and businesses to participate in the economic benefits of a construction program, thus providing economic stimulus to a community. It allows the district to preserve general fund dollars for instruction and classroom needs by providing a dedicated funding source to address identified and prioritized site, facility, athletic, and equipment upgrades.
22. What if the bond proposal or sinking fund millage doesn’t pass?
Over the past decade, severe cuts in school funding coupled with the rising cost of operating the school system have put tremendous pressure on the district’s general operating fund. Failure to approve the bond proposal will mean the district will have to delay much-needed improvements, and that any emergency improvements to address potential safety issues at the district’s facilities will have to be paid for with reprioritized sinking fund dollars or with general operating funds that would otherwise go to support educational programs for students. Additionally, educational facilities and program enhancements such as the robotics space, collaboration space and transforming our classrooms to meet modern learning methods, would be put on hold, potentially impacting opportunities and programs for our students.
23. Can money from the bond program be used to pay for salaries and benefits?
No, that is against state law. Bond dollars cannot be used for operational expenses such as employee salaries, upgrades, maintenance, or energy costs. Bond program funds must be accounted for separately from general operating funds. Bond funds are also subject to audit.
24. Please explain what bond program money can cover and what it cannot.
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 instructional technology equipment
- Equipment and furniture
- Site improvements
- Bus purchases
25. Please explain what Sinking Fund money can cover and what it can’t.
Sinking Fund proceeds cannot be used for the following items:
- Salaries and wages
- General operating expenses and ongoing maintenance
- Classroom supplies and textbooks
- Purchase of technology equipment
- Bus purchases
Sinking Fund proceeds can be used for the following items:
- Repairs and remodeling of facilities
- Repair and upgrade of certain systems (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing, etc.)
- Site improvements
26. What are the key dates leading up to the Nov. 5 election?
Voter registration procedures have changed since the last election.
October 21, 2019 – Last day to register in any manner other than in person with the local clerk for the November election.
October 22 – November 5 at 8pm – In-person registration with local clerk with proof of residency.
November 1 up to 5pm – Deadline for electors to obtain an absent voter ballot via First Class mail.
November 4 up to 4pm – Deadline for electors to obtain an absent voter ballot in person in clerk’s office.
November 5, 2019 – Election Day registrants may obtain and vote an absent voter ballot in person in clerk’s office or vote in person in the proper precinct.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
27. Where do I register to vote?
To vote in the November 5, 2019 election, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age by Election Day, a resident of Michigan and of Novi Community School District. Please visit your local township or city clerk to register to vote or visit any Secretary of State office.
28. If I cannot make it to the polls on Nov. 5 what are my options for absentee voting?
Due to the passage of the statewide ballot proposal in November 2018, all eligible and registered voters in Michigan may now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason.
Applications for Absentee Ballots are available:
· On-line at www.michigan.gov/vote
· In your school building offices
· At your City Clerk’s office
Note: Once election ballots are available in the clerk’s office, 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.
29. Where do I vote?
City of Novi Polling Locations by precinct:
Precinct 1: MEADOWBROOK CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
21355 MEADOWBROOK RD
Precinct 2: GOOD SHEPERD LUTHERAN CHURCH
41415 NINE MILE RD
Precinct 3: VILLAGE OAKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Precinct 4: NOVI UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
41671 TEN MILE RD
Precinct 5: ORCHARD HILLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
41900 QUINCE ST
Precinct 6 & 7: HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH
24505 MEADOWBROOK RD
Precinct 8: MEADOWBROOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
29200 MEADOWBROOK RD
Precinct 9 & 11: CROSSPOINTE MEADOWS CHURCH
29000 MEADOWBROOK RD
Precinct 10: FOX RUN
41000 THIRTEEN MILE RD
Precinct 12: HICKORY WOODS ELEMENTARY
30655 NOVI RD
Precinct 13: NOVI MEADOWS 6TH GRADE HOUSE
25299 TAFT RD
Precinct 14: FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH
44400 W TEN MILE RD
Precinct 15: ST. JAMES CATHOLIC CHURCH
46325 W TEN MILE RD
Precinct 16: NOVI PUBLIC LIBRARY
45255 WEST TEN MILE RD
Precinct 17 & 18: NOVI CIVIC CENTER
45175 W TEN MILE RD
Precinct 19: THORNTON CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
46180 W NINE MILE RD
Precinct 20 & 21: NOVI MIDDLE SCHOOL
49000 11 MILE RD
Precinct 22: DEERFIELD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
26500 WIXOM RD
30. Who may I contact if I have additional questions?
Please feel free to contact:
Dr. Steve Matthews, Superintendent – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Minnick, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations –email@example.com
Or by telephone: (248)449-1204