Questions & Answers

Earlier this school year Ferndale Schools announced our intention to ask the voters for a zero mil increase bond that would yield more than $60 million for our schools.  Below you will find a number of questions regarding the nature of bonds, what the funds can be spent on, and how this will impact our residents.  We encourage everyone to get involved in this vital process.  If you wish to join the Bond Committee or ask a question that you do not see on this website please email Mr. Bill Good at bill.good@ferndaleschools.org.

Basic Information

What is a Bond?

School Bond initiatives allow for school districts to tackle large projects that they would otherwise not be able to. A bond functions much like a loan where the community votes to approve a large investment that is then paid for over time through tax dollars. In March of 2020 Ferndale Schools would be able to capture more than $60 million in funding without raising the current tax rate for our community.

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Financial Information

How would this Bond impact me financially?

Ferndale Schools will be asking the community to approve a Bond initiative on the March 2020 ballot.  If approved the Bond would be a zero mil increase and yield more than $60 million for the district. In plain english this means if approved the Bond would continue the current tax rate, extending it for a longer period and is NOT expected to impose a higher tax rate on our residents.
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If the Bond were voted down does that mean my taxes would decrease?

Yes, but not immediately.
Ferndale Schools is part of the School Loan Revolving Fund (SLRF). The SLRF is a self-sustaining fund that makes loans to school districts to assist with making debt service payments on state qualified bonds issued under the School Bond Qualification and Loan Program.  Loan repayment is deferred until the required debt millage yields enough to pay the district's debt service obligations.  That means our residents current taxes would still go towards service obligations on our previous Bond.  Once those obligations are met the tax rate would decrease.
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What can and can’t Bond dollars be spent on?

Bond proceeds can be used for the following items:

Bond proceeds cannot be used for the following items:

Bond Process

what is the bond process?

The Bond Process refers to the series of steps the district must undertake to ensure that the Bond initiative is on the March 2020 ballot.  Currently we are in the early stages of this process. In December of 2018 the Board of Education selected the architectural firm we will be working with on this project. In January of 2019 we expect to hire the construction manager. We will then begin to conduct detailed needs assessments of our facilities. This work will inform the important decisions the Bond Committee will have to make on how best to spend the funds if the Bond passes.  The Committee will then work with District Administration to create a plan which will be considered for approval by the Board of Education later this year.  To view our detailed timeline for the Bond process click the link (insert link to calendar page).
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Who is the Architect?

In December of 2017 the Board of Education voted to approve GMB as our 2020 Bond Architect.  Click the link to view their K-12 educational site.
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Community Concerns

Are we building a new school as part of the 2020 Bond?

Community discussions around school Bond Initiatives are always a chance to explore many options for the future. Bonds are one of the only funding opportunities available to school districts to pay for large capital investments like comprehensive renovations or constructing new buildings.

No decisions have been made with regards to building a new elementary school. However, due to the age of many of our schools the dialog with our community could involve building a new facility as an option. In early 2019 GMB our Bond Architect will be conducting detailed facility assessments of all of our schools. Their findings will go a long way towards determining the best path forward for our students and community.
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When was the last time we built a new school?
What are the ages of our current buildings?
What were the ages of the three buildings we recently sold?

The last new building constructed within Ferndale Schools was the Coolidge building in 1997. Prior to Coolidge the newest building in our district is the Ferndale High School campus which was built in 1957. Below is a list of our current buildings with construction and renovation dates.

Below is the construction and renovation history of the recently sold buildings:

Why are we discussing new buildings when we just sold three?

n 2015 the Board of Education decided to sell three of our schools (Jefferson, Taft, Wilson) to real estate developers. This decision was made to help right size Ferndale Schools. At that time Ferndale Schools were operating at about 50% capacity. While we would have loved to keep all of our schools operating buildings that far below capacity is an irresponsible use of taxpayer resources. After those buildings were closed and our schools consolidated Ferndale Schools was then operating north of 80% capacity.

While we understand the concern that the district would sell three schools only to potentially build a new one, it is important to note that all three buildings sold were built in the 1920s. If building a new elementary school is recommended during the Bond process it would not be due to the size of the building but rather the age and cost to renovate of Lower Elementary which was also built in the 1920s. So even if Ferndale Schools had elected to shutter but not sell Jefferson, Taft, and Wilson these buildings would not be good candidates for replacing Lower Elementary.
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Are you going to tear down Ferndale Lower Elementary (Roosevelt)?

Ferndale Lower Elementary, dedicated as Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, was built in 1921, two years after its namesakes death. The future of Lower Elementary has not been determined yet and will be a key part of the ongoing discussion with the community with regards to this potential Bond. While we cherish the history of this community landmark our district has to determine the best use of our limited resources and weigh the pros and cons of continuing to invest in a building that was constructed nearly a century ago. During the Bond discussion process we will inform the community of the potential costs of the upkeep of Lower Elementary as well as other alternatives for housing our Kindergarten through 2nd grade students.
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Are you going to tear down Ferndale Lower Elementary (Roosevelt)?

Ferndale Lower Elementary, dedicated as Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, was built in 1921, two years after its namesakes death. The future of Lower Elementary has not been determined yet and will be a key part of the ongoing discussion with the community with regards to this potential Bond. While we cherish the history of this community landmark, our district has to determine the best use of our limited resources and weigh the pros and cons of continuing to invest in a building that was constructed nearly a century ago. During the Bond discussion process, we will inform the community of the potential costs of the upkeep of Lower Elementary as well as other alternatives for housing our Kindergarten through 2nd grade students.
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If a new school is constructed on the grounds of CASA, will that program go away?

The Center for Advanced Studies and the Arts is a consortium program for advanced high school students from several local districts, including Ferndale. The program is currently housed within our district in the Jackson School. While the future of the Jackson School will be discussed during the Bond process, Ferndale Schools remains steadfast in our commitment to being the home of the CASA program. So CASA will continue within Ferndale Schools regardless of the decision on what to do with the Jackson School.
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Every time we get a new Superintendent they want a Bond.  It just ends up being a personal wish list which never ends up being accomplished.

The Ferndale Schools Board of Education and Administration has been working in partnership with our community to build an amazing family of learners. Bond Initiatives are not dependent on the wants of individual administrators but rather come about when the ability to borrow funds intersects with the need to fix capital issues. When a Bond is passed funds are earmarked for individual projects and can only be spent on those specific items. The Bond funding is audited on a continuous basis by an outside firm to ensure the district is in compliance and is appropriately spending funds as voted on by the public.

While it may appear that Bonds are pet projects of administrators they are in fact a collaborative effort between the community, the Board of Education, and the District Administrators. This collaborative process allows for a comprehensive roadmap for the future to be created. It is the duty of everyone involved in the creation of that roadmap to ensure we reach the end.
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We just passed a Sinking Fund and that money isn't being spent on what was purposed. why should we trust the district to spend the Bond Money appropriately?

When Ferndale Schools presented the Sinking Fund to our community for consideration we highlighted more than $13 million in issues that would need to be addressed over the next 15 years. Each year our Sinking Fund yields approximately $700,000.  That means that since its approval the district has only collected less than $3 million in funds.

Sinking Funds are different from Bonds in that they yield a lower amount of money each year where a Bond gives you all of the funds up front. That means work will be completed over the length of the Sinking Fund (15 years) rather than immediately like you see with a bond.
Over the first few years of the Sinking Fund Ferndale Schools has addressed many of our original issues as well as some others that needed to be addressed immediately.
Learn more about recent facility improvements »

Each of the projects not yet completed but listed as part of the original request will be finished within the life of the Sinking Fund. However, some projects, like the roof at Lower Elementary, have been put on hold pending the outcome of the community discussions of the 2020 bond.

Our fantastic facilities team has developed a criteria for addressing our biggest areas of need first.  So while some may have wanted to see more progress made in other areas, the Sinking Fund is a limited amount of money (Approx. $700,000 per year) and thus we are not able to address everything at once. Our team weighs each item on our list to decide which is the highest priority to spend these funds on.
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Will the bond include curriculum related technology upgrades?

To prepare our students to work in today’s technologically advanced workforce environment, Ferndale must invest a portion of the potential bond funding to instructional technology tools. The goal is to assist in the facilitation of teaching and learning required by colleges and employers by providing modern equipment and tools.

Learn more about how Ferndale is currently using technology in the classroom »
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What are some of the potential technology upgrades available to be spent on for these bonds?

Bond programs allow the District to purchase and install instructional technology upgrades in all district facilities. Update teaching and learning equipment. Provide student devices to support learning. Building/District Technology Upgrades. Upgrade security systems. Active learning environments. Technology Infrastructure and access control.
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