SCOPE OF PROJECT
NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
HIGH SCHOOL & MIDDLE SCHOOL
Why are two new Elementaries needed?
Each of the current Elementary Schools is at capacity. As a high-performing District, Mattawan will continue to grow and attract new residents. The current facilities won’t accommodate more students.
Many of the existing classrooms are 2/3 the size of a 21st century classroom. Existing infrastructure will not support continued additions & population growth.
All-day Kindergarten will require additional classroom space. We could purchase more portables to fill that need, but the better way to spend those dollars is on a permanent solution.
Approval of the bond allows the district to preserve the proven current grade structure (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) while accommodating future growth.
How was the scope of this bond determined? Did the community have any input into the process? Who participated in the process?
After the May 2011 election, district officials sought feedback from community members, including both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ voters. Over 800 people responded, and their input clearly pointed to lowering the total amount of the bond and keeping the primary focus on elementary schools.
Does the District have a plan for using the current Elementary Schools?
Yes, after a successful election, the district intends to use the existing Elementary Buildings for after school programs, meeting space for student and community groups, and additional office space. The district will explore options that could include hosting online classes, college courses and programs for Senior Citizens.
What will it cost to operate two new buildings and maintain the old? How will it affect the district’s budget?
Energy savings from newer, more efficient buildings will offset additional expenses of added space. Bus runs for elementary schools should be shorter (after school) because of the ability to line them up numerically thus saving time loading students each day. That will reduce transportation costs.
Why did the District come back so soon after the last bond request was voted down? How can the district justify asking for a millage in these economic times?
The need for new elementary buildings continues to grow. All-day Kindergarten starting in the 2012-13 school year will mean that the district has to add a minimum of 7 new classrooms just to handle that. Since it takes a few years to build new schools, it was important to put the question to the voters as soon as possible.
Why isn’t the district building just one elementary school now and another later?
The need exists for two buildings. Building only one now means splitting up the elementary buildings and going to a 5 building sequence from kindergarten to grade 12. Students would need to transition from one additional building to another, negatively impacting learning. It would also require running one more cafeteria and hiring added administrators. Students would sit on buses an average of 20 minutes more per day as we would have to pick up students at one building and go across the campus to pick up other students on the same route.
Why not just remodel the buildings we have? Isn’t that less expensive?
If you were only looking at cosmetic improvements, the answer is yes, it is less expensive to remodel. However, many more factors must be considered to extend the life of a building and create an appropriate space for students in the 21st Century.
- Does the physical infrastructure (boilers, electrical service, plumbing systems) support the necessary improvements?
- Are the common spaces (cafeteria, gym, media center) large enough for continued student population growth?
- Are the classrooms large enough to support a variety of educational delivery models (small group, large group, project-based, etc.) without major structural changes?
- Is there space on the site for additions to accommodate growth?
- Is there space on the site to separate bus traffic from car traffic?
- Is the building envelope (doors and windows, exterior wall insulation, roof insulation) energy efficient?
The answer to all these questions is ‘No’. The costs to make these improvements are great enough that a new building is more economical from a long-term perspective.
The biggest effect would probably be seen in regards to the property tax credit on your State of Michigan tax return. Depending on your income and amount of property taxes you pay, there is a possibility of receiving a tax credit on your Michigan income tax return. Use the tax calculator available at www.mytaxcalc.com/mattawan to estimate your potential tax savings.
How can someone who does not have access to the internet (like my parents) access the tax calculator?
Anyone may call the District office at 668-3361 x1720 or visit our central office and school staff will assist them with this information.
Why do these new Elementaries cost so much more than new ones in neighboring Districts?
The buildings proposed for Mattawan are designed to house twice the number of students as the buildings erected recently in neighboring districts.
What is the value of the technology component and what does that include for each building?
The total for technology included in this proposal is $7,193,505. This includes student computers, projectors, smart boards, and similar equipment for the classrooms at all buildings, video production equipment at the high school, data networking at the middle and high schools and the necessary cabling and infrastructure, public address, telephone , video surveillance and access control systems for the new elementary schools.
Total expenditures for each building are as follows:
- High School – $2,174,255
- Middle School – $1,783,060
- Later Elementary – $1,721,805
- Early Elementary – $1,514,385
How can we be sure the cost won’t increase before the schools are built?
Construction costs are favorable now. Competitive bidding means the district will receive attention from many contractors and the likely result is gaining more construction value for our dollar. Waiting for a better economic climate increases the potential of higher costs.
Why is the increase in millage rate so much?
We’ve been responsible stewards of your tax dollars. Beginning in 1989, our millage rate went from 2.85 to 7.73, with the voter approval to build a new high school. Beginning in 2001 we were able to refinance several old bond issues which resulted in substantial savings to taxpayers. As a result of these savings and the continued growth of housing and business in the District, we were able to lower our debt millage to 4.70 mills in 2005. This put us well below our neighbors for the past several years. Due to our continued student growth (over 400 students in the past decade) we need to make an investment in our physical assets. This investment will put us more in line with many of the neighboring schools districts. This will mean a 3.4 mill increase after several years of lower than average rates.
How will Mattawan’s school millage rate compare to surrounding districts after this bond passes?
School Millage rates vary widely by District.Mattawan’s debt levy is currently lower than many surrounding districts. After the bond passes, Mattawan will be at the upper end of the scale, Similar to Paw Paw, Lawton, Allegan, and Pennfield.
What is the Financial Impact of this bond issue?
- Total Project Cost: $59.9 Million
- Mills added by this bond: 3.4 (down from 3.88 in May 2011)
- Average additional cost per taxpayer in a $150,000 home with a taxable value of $75,000 would be $255 per year
- Your tax may be less — use the tax calculator available at www.mytaxcalc.com/mattawan to determine your tax impact
The bond amount dropped from $88 to $59.9 million, but the mills only reduced from 3.88 mills to 3.4 mills. Why?
The previous proposal would have levied a higher rate for a much longer period of time. The previous proposal required a 7.48 mill debt levy for 30 years. The current proposal levies 7 mills for seventeen years and then reduces steadily over the next twelve years.
Click here for a more detailed explanation of how the millage rate is affected by participation in the State of Michigan’s School Bond Qualification and Loan Program. If you have more questions, please call Dr. Bird at 668-3361 ext. 8700.
I’m confused. Why does the ballot language refer to a 4.51 Average Millage Rate?
This confuses many voters. 4.51 mills is NOT the increase you would see in the millage rate. By law, ballot language must state the “Average Mills” levied over the life of the bond. Mattawan’s current total levy is 4.6 mills. The new Bond Issue would add 3.4 mills to this rate. Your new total millage rate would continue to decline over time.
Our students perform well compared to other districts by all measures. Aren’t the current facilities working well enough in spite of their shortcomings?
Our teaching staff does an excellent job in less-than-excellent buildings. But because our Elementary Schools are at capacity, adding all-day kindergarten means we will have to increase class sizes to accommodate students. This could hurt district test results.
What will the new schools look like? How many stories? How many classrooms are included?
The New Early Elementary will have 44 classrooms and the New Later Elementary will have 39 classrooms. The square footage of the buildings has been developed by the Architect based on input from District staff regarding the number and types of spaces within the building and complies with the Department of Treasury guidelines for student count per classroom and maximum cost per square foot.
The buildings will most-likely be two stories based on the amount of land available, but the design work will not begin until after the bond is approved. The design process will involve input from District staff and administrators, community members and parents and students so that the buildings reflect the desires of the community and look like Mattawan.
How many students will each elementary school accommodate?
The New Early Elementary and New Later Elementary are both planned for 950 students with core spaces (gym, cafeteria, kitchen, media center, boiler room) planned for 1100. The building will be configured to allow for future classroom additions to accommodate future growth.
Will the new elementary buildings meet student population projections for five years? Ten years?
The Department of Treasury guidelines allow planning for a five year projected population. Given the history of growth in Mattawan, the core spaces of the building are sized to accommodate more students so that future growth will only require the addition of classroom space.
Will the new schools use alternative energy systems or be ‘green’ in any way?
The new schools will meet or exceed the strict new code standards for energy efficiency. In addition, the new buildings could utilize a geo-exchange system, which uses the earth’s relatively constant temperature to exchange heat with the buildings mechanical systems. At this time, no other alternative energy systems (wind, photo-voltaic, biomass) have been planned.
When will construction begin? When will the buildings be opened?
Construction will begin in the Fall of 2012 and the new schools will be open at the start of the 2014/2015 school year.
How much does each new elementary school cost?
- The construction cost for the 118,357 sq.ft. New Early Elementary is $19,181,987 or $162.07 /sq.ft.
- The construction cost for the 110,500 sq.ft. New Later Elementary is $17,931,073 or $162.27 /sq.ft.
What technology improvements will be included at the Middle School and High School?
The November bond request includes technology improvements for ALL schools:
- Mobile devices to support a 1-to-1 student-to-computer initiative at all schools
- Classroom Audio/Video Station–allows teachers and students to utilize technology and leverage on-line content.
- New Security Systems to meet the needs of today’s schools
- Projectors and Interactive Whiteboards
At the Middle and High Schools:
- Data Networking at the Middle School and High School
- Enhancements to Video Production at the High School
- Video Production Carts at both schools
Expenditures for each building total:
- High School – $2,174,255
- Middle School – $1,783,060
Why didn’t the bond include renovations to the middle and high school? Why were these schools left alone except for technology?
We need to address the elementary buildings the most. They are the oldest buildings. We have a newer high school which is in great shape. Making changes to the High School now wouldn’t solve the problems we have at all elementary grade levels. The $88 million May Bond Issue would have addressed all the buildings– but the voters rejected that concept and over 800 people from various age ranges told us that our main priority right now should be on the elementary buildings.
In order to reduce the cost of the total bond, the district elected to focus on elementary schools which are 25 to 50 years older than the MS and HS. The Middle School and High School will receive significant improvements to instructional technology.
What about the portables at the Middle School?
For now, those will remain. They will have to be addressed at some point in the future.
Why were extra-curricular needs not addressed?
Based on community feedback, the citizens suggested that the district focus at this time should purely be on instruction.
Why not a pool or an auditorium?
Based on community feedback, the citizens, as a whole, wouldn’t support building a pool or auditorium at this time.
I don’t have kids in school, why should I support this bond?
You or your children have probably benefited from a public education. In the past, our community supported building new schools and adding on to old ones. Now it’s our turn to pay it forward.
What is the history of Mattawan successful bond votes?
- 4.88 mill increase, $14.6 million for New High School, upgrade athletic facilities
- Zero mill increase, $3.9 million for additions and remodeling
- Zero mill increase, $16.5 million for additions and remodeling
How old are each of the district’s buildings? What is the history of the Early and Later Elementary Schools?
A comprehensive history of Mattawan schools can be read here: http://www.mattawanschools.org/14621089114826340/site/default.asp (PDF)