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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Questions? Please visit our contact page or search for your question and answer below. 

  • How was the project scope of the bond proposal developed?
    Gobles Public Schools is committed to a process of creating and maintaining a proactive approach to updating facilities. Continually evaluating and monitoring school facilities helps to protect the community’s investment in its schools. A comprehensive effort has been made early in the process to identify current facility needs while also identifying and anticipating future needs through the creation of a long-term facilities plan. During the fall of 2022, working with architectural, engineering, construction, and technology specialists, the school district completed an in-depth facility study. The study identified districtwide facility needs and has helped inform the proposed direction of the bond proposal. Overall, there were approximately $24.5 million dollars of total facilities recommendations indicated in the report for Gobles Elementary and the Gobles Middle/High School Building. A summary by building is as follows: Gobles Elementary School Recommendations Years 1-10: $11,013,840 Gobles Middle / High School Recommendations Years 1-10: $13,305,465 TOTAL ALL RECOMMENDATIONS: $24,319,305 If interested, the full study is available here. Early in 2022, conversations with staff, students, community members, and the Board of Education identified additional thoughts for advancing the facility offerings as they relate to the educational needs and goals of the district. Many of the items that were shared were beyond the maintenance and upkeep needs identified in the facility study and were focused on projects that help support educational programming needs. As ideas and scenarios were studied for a potential bond proposal, additional input was provided by a community-based steering committee during the spring of 2023. Input received was critical in testing potential scope ideas for a bond proposal along with gaining feedback on the financial impact to the community of a prospective bond.
  • What are the main goals of the proposed bond scope?
    During the planning process, three goals were established to help guide and shape a potential bond plan. Main goals of the project include: 1. Develop a Long-Range Plan that Guides District Decisions for Facilities 2. Create a Fiscally Responsible Plan that Respects Tax-payer Investment and Sets the Table for Future Improvements to be Financially Feasible 3. Create District Sustainability by Creating a Greater Focus on Pre-K and Early Childhood Education a. Early Childhood Programs have the expected benefits: i. Improve Student Education Outcomes by providing a good educational foundation for students ii. Create a pipeline of future student enrollment in the district Key Priorities of the Established Bond Scope Include: Safety and Security – The safety and security of our students and staff is the highest priority. Peace of mind in the classroom allows for a more comfortable learning experience. Improved Office Presence – The preliminary plan at the Middle/High School building places the new combined main office for the Middle and High School administrative staff in a position to better monitor the main entry and to observe the parent drop-off and pick up loop. It also places the office functions in a more central location for equal access to all parts of the building. Access Control Upgrades – The bond will seek to improve access control at building entry points. This will include a new fob system at key entries for staff use. The new main entry proposed in the Middle/High School project would be structured as a secure vestibule and will include controls that allow for multiple lock-down capabilities in the event of an emergency. Door + Window Replacement – Doors at the elementary are out of date and difficult to open for egress or secure properly for maintaining a secure environment. Many of the windows in the older portions do not meet egress window size requirements of current codes for exiting from the classrooms in the event of an emergency. Fire Alarm System Replacement – The current fire alarm system is out of date. The proposed fire alarm system will provide enhanced emergency communication with students and staff that meets today’s code requirements. Site Traffic Flow Separations – Traffic pattern upgrades are included as part of the bond scope. The potential plan will allow for greater separation of parent/visitor vehicular traffic and bus traffic, through the addition of new drives and traffic loops, which will provide a safer environment for the drop-off and pick-up times of the day. Educational Environment Improvements – As educational trends continue to change and evolve, our facilities need to be flexible and relevant in ways that best support best practices in teaching and learning. State-of-the-art educational environments that are comfortable will help our students to be prepared for careers of the future. The bond scope seeks to provide a combination of new amenities to support student performance. Classroom Size + Flexibility Improvements – Many of the classrooms at the Middle School / High School building are undersized to support the number of students being taught in the spaces. The replacement of older sections of the Middle/High School Building is intended to create classroom spaces that ample space for the activities happening within. Classroom flexibility will be possible through the replacement of outdated furniture that is difficult to rearrange for a variety of teaching and learning modes. New classroom furniture will provide a comfortable environment for students that is agile enough to adjust for a variety of arrangements in the rooms. Natural Light + Thermal Comfort – Many of the current middle school spaces do not have access to natural light. The proposed addition at the middle/high school building creates an opportunity for all classroom spaces to have access to natural light. Natural light has been proven to improve student performance and staff morale. Thermal Comfort and Air Quality Improvements - Mechanical systems will be upgraded to provide our facilities with consistent heating systems that will also provide air conditioning creating year-round comfort for students and staff. New temperature control systems will be installed to provide greater monitoring and adjustment of the mechanical systems. The new mechanical systems will improve ventilation in our buildings providing better air quality throughout for healthier environments for our students and staff. Educational Infrastructure Upgrades – The current fire alarm system is out of date. The proposed fire alarm system will provide enhanced emergency communication with students and staff that meets today’s code requirements. Grade Level Separations – Throughout many of our conversations during the planning process, we received input that suggested better separation of the Middle School and High School zones of the building. The proposed plan includes a two story addition for the Middle/High School that would create areas on the main level that are dedicated to Middle School students and the proposed second level would have classroom and breakout spaces that are dedicated to High School students. Energy Efficiency Upgrades / Operational Costs- Energy savings improvements allow the district to divert funding from operational costs toward items that will directly affect education and have student impact. The proposed bond scope includes a number of energy efficiency upgrades. Window / Roof Replacement – The elementary facility has several areas that have single pane window systems currently in place. The proposed plan will replace these systems with better performing window systems that will be equipped with thermally broken frames and glass will be high performing low-E insulating glass. As part of the roof replacements, the amount of insulation at the roof level will be increased to meet current energy codes. Mechanical Systems Replacement – As part of the mechanical systems replacement, we will look at installing higher-efficiency equipment. Upgrades to our mechanical systems will include new building controls that will allow for greater monitoring and control over energy use. Future Ready Schools – Education practices continue to rapidly change. Our goal is to create spaces that are adaptable to change over time. Flexibility is a key component of the projects proposed. A number of ideas were also generated during the planning process that could be future project initiatives. The proposed plan allows for consideration of these potential future projects without impacting work that is part of this bond proposal. Future Expansion – The proposed plan at the Middle School / High School works to preserve strategic areas of the site to allow for future additions and expansion to the building. Potential future projects that may be considered in a future bond proposal could include auditorium renovation or a new auditorium, consideration for a new auxiliary gym, expansion of locker room space, and the addition of spaces to support skilled trades careers. Flexibility – Educational design has evolved from designing spaces for singular use. Many of the new spaces proposed as part of the middle school / high school addition seek to provide a multitude of uses. The multipurpose addition will provide an opportunity to serve as a cafeteria space and large group instruction space during the course of the school day and then has the ability to transform into after school event or practice space. Classrooms in the new addition will be equipped with technology and furniture that will allow for a variety of activities to take place within those spaces.
  • Why is a portion of the Middle School/High School being torn down as part of the plan rather than renovating the current space?
    The facilities assessment identified areas of the middle school / high school that have a significant amount of facility update needs. The portions of the building that are proposed to be removed were originally constructed in 1950. These areas fall short in meeting the needs of today’s education spaces due to their small classroom size, access to natural light and overall comfort and condition. Removal of these spaces allows for the construction of modern educational environments that will be designed to meet the needs of today and the future. Additional benefits of removal of these areas and replacement with modern learning environments are the reduction of the building footprint, allowing for future additions, opportunities for the improvement of site traffic flow, potential space and energy efficiencies, along with rightsizing the facility for our student population.
  • How would the community be involved in design and facility planning following a successful election?
    Upon a successful election, many stakeholders including staff, students, and parents will be engaged to further define and develop the designs of the proposed projects. We also plan to host a community forum and receive input from the community to help shape the potential designs.
  • Will local emergency response teams be involved in the design process?
    Yes, representatives of local law enforcement and emergency management organizations will be brought in early into the design process to gain feedback on how the facilities designs best support access and response for emergency personnel.
  • When would the projects be complete?
    A preliminary look at the potential project schedule is as follows. This is a good initial look at potential dates, however the overall timelines and sequencing for the various activities below are subject to change based upon further analysis by our architectural and construction management teams. PHASE 1 WORK · Gobles Elementary Roof Replacement o Bid – Early 2024 o Roof Installation – Summer 2024 · Gobles Elementary Renovations + Improvements o Design Complete Fall 2024 o Bid – Fall 2024 o Construction – Summer 2025 · Site Work – Elementary o Bid Fall 2024 o Construction Summer 2025 · Gobles Middle/High School o Design Complete Fall 2024 PHASE 2 WORK · Gobles Middle/High School o Bid – Fall 2024 o Demo/Construction – Start Summer 2025 (multiple phases) o Construction Complete / Occupancy – Fall 2027 School Year · Site Work – Middle/High School o Bid – Fall 2026 o Construction – Summer 2027
  • Why aren't all of the projects being completed on the same timeline?
    The amount of work being proposed in the bond proposal is significant. As such, our Construction Management partners believe it to be the best practice to stagger the implementation of the projects. This will allow for greater contractor participation and will not overstress the construction market which currently is struggling with labor availability. Greater participation of bidders means greater competition and hopefully better bid results that will benefit the school district.
  • How do cost escalation and the current market impact the project scope?
    The budgeting that has been provided for the proposed bond scope is based on current market conditions. Going forward, the costs include typical yearly escalation factors and construction contingency funds for unforeseen conditions that are encountered during construction. The district will work to preserve the projects as originally presented to the community during the pre-bond planning phase. In the event unexpected market conditions arise, the district intends to implement projects in order of highest priority to lowest priority and will be fully transparent about any change in plans that may be necessary due to elements outside of their control.
  • Why do we need a bond proposal?
    Many school districts in the State of Michigan typically seek approval for bond proposals every 5-10 years. This allows for significant improvements to occur and keep district facilities current. The last bond proposal brought to the Gobles Public School district voters was a successful election in 2014. The Board of Education and district administration have identified a key goal to be that Gobles Public Schools will take pride and ownership of school facilities in order to provide a healthy, safe, respectful and nurturing learning environment where the needs of students come first. We strive to prepare students so they will be future ready for personal success, college and career, and the global marketplace. Upgraded facilities that support education for our current and future students will have a major impact in achieving this goal. Due to the size and scale of school buildings, maintenance, updates, and replacement of facilities is costly and often not possible through the traditional funding received by school districts. Our district has a number of growing needs that require large sums of money to undertake. A bond proposal is the best approach to making the significant updates and improvements needed at GPS.
  • What funding sources are available to schools?
    Schools receive funding from a number of sources. A simple breakdown of the sources is as follows: Foundation Per Pupil Allowance*# The State of Michigan provides a per pupil amount of funding to school districts. Currently, the amount received per pupil is $9,150. Operational Millage (Non-Homestead tax levy)*# This is a voter-approved tax levy that provides operational funding to support the annual school budget. The current Non-Homestead levy in Gobles Public Schools is 18.0 mills. This funding is included in the Foundation Per Pupil Allowance above. This not an additional funding source. * Staff salaries and benefits account for approximately 80-85% of the use of Foundation and Operational Millage funding. The remainder of these funds are typically used for costs of educational programs, building operation costs, and supplies. This leaves very little funding available for facility improvements. # In the State of Michigan, school infrastructure is not included in the Foundation Per Pupil Allowance. Funding for school infrastructure improvements is obtained through local voter support. Voter-Approved Sinking Funds Voter-approved sinking funds provide an annual collection of taxes based on property values. Typically, the collection provides a smaller amount of funding that allows for minor facilities improvements and renovations. Under new legislation, sinking funds can pay for buses, student technology and safety/security improvements. Sinking funds cannot be used for the purchase of furniture. Gobles Public Schools currently levies a 2.0 mill sinking fund. Voter-Approved Bond Funds A bond is a state-approved borrowing process for a set scope of projects. When voters approve a bond proposal, the school district sells bonds in the authorized amount and uses the proceeds of the sale to pay for those projects identified in the bond proposal. Bond proposals are most useful when a district needs a large funding source for facility improvement projects. In many ways, the bonding process is like a homeowner obtaining a mortgage and making payments over a period of years. The current levy for bond debt in the Gobles Public School District is 9.00 mills. The proposed levy would not increase the tax rate. The levy will stay at 9.00 mills.
  • Can any of the bond proposal funds be used for employee salaries or operating expenses?
    No, by law, bond proposal funds cannot be used for employee salaries and benefits, athletics or student programming. They also cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs or other operating expenses. Bond proposal funds must be used only for purposes specified in the ballot language, and as required by state law, they must be independently audited.
  • How does our current millage rate compare to other districts?
    We appreciate the continued investment the community has made in our school district and have been mindful of our impact to taxpayers by not asking for a tax rate increase over the current levy. People often wonder why our levy is higher compared to some of the larger surrounding districts. The simple answer is our tax base is smaller comparatively and requires us to levy a higher millage rate to generate more bond funding.
  • How would the bond proposal affect my taxes?
    If approved, the ballot proposal would allow the district to sell bonds in the amount of $27.7 million with a 0.0-mill net increase over the current tax rate, meaning the current debt levy of 9.0 mills will not change. Some community members may be eligible for the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit. This tax credit indicates that households that pay homestead property taxes greater than 3.2% of their annual income may be eligible. Eligible households may deduct up to 60% and senior citizens may be eligible to deduct up to 100% of the millage increase cost up to a $1,500 Homestead Tax Credit limit. The eligibility for the credit begins to decrease after the household income exceeds $54,001 and ends completely after the household income exceeds $63,001. To understand how this applies to your situation, please consult your account or tax advisor or preparer to determine the actual impact on your taxes. GENERAL CREDIT REDUCTION GENERAL CREDIT REDUCTION
  • If I own multiple properties, how does the millage impact me? Does it only apply to my primary residence or business?
    The millage will impact all real properties that you own that are located within the Gobles Public School District boundary.
  • Would all the bonds be sold at one time?
    No. The bonds would be sold in series. A series bond means that voters are asked to approve the overall bond amount once at the November 7th, 2023 election, but then bonds to generate project funds would be sold in stages to help reduce interest costs. The first series would be sold in 2024, and the second series is expected to be sold in 2025. This approach is an opportunity to save in interest costs, and it also staggers cash flow for the project, so it is received when needed for construction to align with the potential staggered start and completion dates of the proposed projects.
  • If the bond proposal passes in November, will the district seek a bond anytime in the near future?
    School buildings are constantly in need of facility updates. As we move into the future, the district will monitor opportunities for generating funding for necessary facility improvements. There is no specific timing that has been identified, however we would anticipate a future opportunity to exist in 8-10 years to seek voter approval of another bond. The timing will be dependent upon property value changes and other variable. As these future opportunities arise, the district intends to continue to be transparent with the community and will seek feedback on potential approaches.
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