Voters in the Northville school district will consider a $20.87 million bond proposal Nov. 6 to replace aging district technology, according to a news release from the district.
The Northville Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to put the issue on the November ballot at its July 9 meeting, the news release said. While nearly 90 percent of the bond funds are earmarked to address technology improvements, the proposal also includes funds for the purchase of replacement buses for the district’s aging fleet, the news release said.
The technology enhancements contained in the bond proposal will affect Northville Public Schools students and the community in the following ways, the news release indicated:
- Provide proven educational technology that adapts to individual student learning styles and needs.
- Enable college and career readiness for all students.
- Keep General Fund dollars in the classroom.
- Maintain the current millage rate for taxpayers and keep the community strong.
“The guiding principles throughout the district’s technology planning — and in our decision to bring this bond request before voters — are what will best support student achievement and prepare students for a lifetime of learning,” said Northville Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher in the news release. “As instructional delivery systems are updated and refined, true student-focused, immersive learning can take place when the most appropriate technologies are available in the classroom.”
Gallagher emphasized the importance of the upgraded technology.
“Technology is a powerful part of our everyday lives, whether at school, work or home. Numerous educational studies show — and colleges and employers tell us — that technology use as a resource and a required skill-set must be developed in today’s young people to enable their success in college and in their careers.”
The decision by the Board of Education to bring the bond proposal before voters is the culmination of an extensive Technology Needs Assessment completed this spring by a team of district administrators and teachers from all levels, as well as representatives from the technology consulting firm, Wright & Hunter, the news release said.
The team reviewed the district’s current infrastructure and technology and looked ahead to instructional needs now and in the future. The final report and its recommendations were presented to the Board of Education in May, 2012. If approved by voters, the bond will provide technology upgrades across the district that will enhance learning for all students, while also protecting the district’s limited General Fund dollars needed to fund regular operational expenses, the news release said.
In the same way, the use of the bond dollars to purchase replacement buses for the district’s aging fleet will help to further protect the district’s General Fund.
“During these challenging economic times, severe cuts in state funding for public schools have forced us to delay much-needed technology improvements and bus replacements,” said Northville Board of Education President Dottie Garrity in the news release. “Asking the community for bond funds is one of the few options currently available to school districts — along with Sinking Funds — to raise the dollars necessary to address these critical needs, while also ensuring that the school district’s limited operating funds are available to support student learning.”
In May 2011, Northville school district voters approved a 1-mill, five-year Sinking Fund millage that included technology network infrastructure upgrades — being completed over the summer — along with numerous building repairs and improvements.
According to the news release, these technology upgrades will increase the district’s capacity so the network infrastructure can accommodate the increased volume of digital applications and devices, as well as provide building-wide wireless access in every school building.
While the network infrastructure upgrades made possible through the Sinking Fund dollars provide an important foundation, Sinking Fund money, by law, cannot be used to buy technology equipment and software required for the next phase in the district’s critical technology improvements.
Citing an effort to reduce its debt millage each year, beginning in 2013 and continuing for the next 9 years, the Technology Bond would raise $20.87 million for technology improvements without raising Northville School District’s taxpayers’ yearly tax contribution—maintaining the 4.3-mill rate currently paid by taxpayers through the 2019 tax year, the news release said.
“If approved, the Technology Bond will keep Northville’s taxpayer dollars in Northville and protect our community’s investment in the outstanding educational programs that are the hallmark of Northville Public Schools,” Garrity said in the news release. “Strong schools are the foundation of a strong community where people want to live, businesses want to locate, and property values are higher.”
The Technology Bond funds would support the district’s technology plan for at least the next 12 years by issuing bonds through two separate series.
- Series 1, comprising $16.27 million, would be issued in 2013 to implement the technology improvements across the district, as well as purchase replacement buses.
- Series 2, comprising $4.6 million, would be issued in 2017 to “refresh” the district’s initial technology investment from the bond and extend the viability of the district’s computing devices as technology continues to evolve at a increasingly fast pace. The replacement school buses included in the bond proposal will allow the district to retire some of the aging vehicles in its 46-bus fleet.
Thirteen of the district’s current buses are at least 15 years old with an average of 153,000 miles.
For more information about the Technology Bond Proposal visit the district website at www.northville.k12.mi.us.