Bond Proposal 2021

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Thank you to the Zeeland community for approving the ZPS bond proposal. We will provide progress updates on this webpage. If you have any questions about any project or timeline, please reach out to Superintendent Cal De Kuiper at 616.748.3002.

Timeline of Events

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May 4, 2021 Bond Proposal Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

What is a bond proposal and how can funds from a bond be spent?

A bond proposal is how a public school district asks its community for authorization to borrow money to pay for capital expenditures. Voter-approved bond funds can be spent on new construction, additions, remodeling, site improvements, athletic facilities, playgrounds, furnishings, equipment, technology, and other capital needs. Funds raised through the sale of bonds cannot be used on operational expenses such as employee salaries and benefits, school supplies, and textbooks. Bond funds must be kept separate from operating funds and must be audited by an independent auditing firm.

How much money would the bond proposal generate?

The proposal would generate $75,000,000 which would be spent over five years on district-wide capital improvements.

What is the focus of the bond proposal and what are the cost breakdowns?

Proposed projects focus on:

  • Preserving our district facilities
  • Safety and security
  • Accommodating current student population growth
  • Approximately 45% of funds would be spent on growth, 41% on district facilities, and 14% on safety and security

How much has the district student population grown?

The total enrollment at Zeeland Public Schools has increased by 800 students over the last eight years. To understand the full context of such growth, a typical ZPS elementary building houses 400 students. Enrollment projections show the district’s student population could exceed 7,104 by 2026, an increase of 788 students. The enrollment projections are formed in partnership with Dr. Frederick Ignatovich of Stanfred Consultants, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University.

How does the district plan to accommodate student population growth?

The bond proposal addresses student population growth by:

  • Adding six classrooms at Adams Elementary School to preserve all elementary school boundaries
  • Renovating Elementary School art rooms
  • Renovating Cityside Middle School classrooms
  • Adding classrooms at Zeeland East High School, and adding science and STEM labs
  • Upgrading equipment in industrial arts and skilled trades spaces at Zeeland West High School
  • Renovating the Early Childhood Center to provide improved spaces for Speech Services
  • Expanding facilities for Zeeland Recreation and Zeeland athletics including fine arts and the community track

Who was involved in determining what is included in the bond proposal?

Initial bond planning started with an assessment of all school buildings and sites and was combined with a list of educational and program needs developed through staff interviews, community forums, a scientific survey, and a community survey to prioritize the scope of the bond.

How would the bond proposal impact my property taxes?

If approved by voters, no tax rate increase is expected for Zeeland Public Schools property owners. The debt tax rate is expected to remain the same but would extend the current rate further into the future.

What has changed since the 2020 bond proposal?

In early 2020 the Board of Education placed a $135,950,000 school bond proposal on the May 2020 election ballot but removed the proposal in March before the community began voting. The District decided to postpone consideration of the previous bond proposal due to the uncertainties of COVID-19 and its impact on the schools and community.

Out of financial responsibility to district taxpayers, the Board of Education is now asking the community to consider a smaller proposal that addresses immediate facility needs and is based on current community growth. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can not evaluate future district growth rates as clearly as we previously could.

The updated proposal no longer includes constructing a new middle school and projects associated with the new school, such as relocating ZQuest and Spanish Immersion to the current Creekside Building. While these projects may be considered necessary in the future, the need is not immediate. Should COVID-19 economic recovery and district enrollment growth continue to climb, another bond proposal could be considered in 2025-2026 without an expected tax increase.

Is the school district going to immediately issue $75,000,000 of bonds?

No. The bonds are proposed to be issued in three series (2021, 2023, and 2025). This allows for the district to make updates and improvements to district facilities over a series of five years.

Is the debt millage rate expected to be the same over the life of the bond?

The current debt millage rate is estimated to remain at 7.45 mills through 2026, then it is estimated to decline further in the future.

Would money from the bond proposal be used to pay teachers’ salaries and benefits?

No. School districts are not allowed to use funds from a bond for operating expenses such as teacher, administrator or employee salaries, routine maintenance, or operating costs. Bond revenue must be kept separate from operating funds and bond revenue expenditures must be audited by an independent auditing firm.

How would I know the bond funds would be spent the way they are supposed to be spent?

Michigan law requires that expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses. An audit would be completed at the end of each project to ensure compliance.    

Key Dates

  • Registering to vote:
    • The last day fr voters to register by mail is Monday, April 19, 2021
    • Voters may register in-person through Tuesday, May 4, 2021 (election day) with the required documentation
  • Absentee Voting:
    • Absentee voter ballots are available from March 20 until May 4, 2021
    • Contact your local election official with questions
  • Voting on Election Day:
    • Tuesday, May 4, 2021
    • Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where and when will the vote occur?  

Registered voters may cast a ballot at the polling location established by their city/township. If you have questions or do not know where you vote, please contact your city/township office. The election will be held on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.  Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.

If I rent a house, can I vote? 

Yes, if you rent a house you can still vote. You do need to be a registered voter in the city or township you are living in.

Where can I find additional information about voting?

Visit michigan.gov/vote to view your sample ballot, verify your voter registration, find your polling location, or contact your local election official.

How is an absent voter ballot obtained?

Absent voter ballots are available to any registered voter. Registered voters must complete and submit an application for an absent voter ballot. (For assistance in obtaining the address of your local clerk, see Michigan.gov/vote). You must request an absent voter ballot by mailing the application, a letter, a postcard, or a pre-printed application form obtained from your local clerk's office. Requests to have an absent voter ballot mailed to you must be received by your clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. the Friday before the election.

Applications are available from your local clerk’s office. You also may obtain an application online at www.mi.gov/sos. Click “Elections” on the top menu, and then click on “Voter Information” then click on “Absent Voter Ballot Application.” Absent voter ballots are available by March 20 through May 4, 2021.

What is the bond proposal ballot language?

ZEELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS BONDING PROPOSAL

Shall Zeeland Public Schools, Ottawa and Allegan Counties, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Seventy-Five Million Dollars ($75,000,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, in one or more series, for the purpose of:

erecting, furnishing and equipping additions to school buildings; remodeling, equipping and re-equipping and furnishing and refurnishing school buildings; and acquiring, preparing, equipping, developing, and improving playgrounds, playfields, athletic fields and facilities and sites?

The following is for informational purposes only:

The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2021, is 1.73 mills ($1.73 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a 0.00 mill net increase over the prior year's levy. The maximum number of years the bonds of any series may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is twenty (20) years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 2.10 mills ($2.10 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

(Pursuant to State law, expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.)

Is there a second proposal on the ballot?

Yes, there is an operational millage renewal. The ballot language is:

ZEELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS OPERATING MILLAGE RENEWAL PROPOSAL

This proposal will allow the school district to continue to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance and renews millage that will expire with the 2021 tax levy.

Shall the currently authorized millage rate limitation of 18.7760 mills ($18.7760 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Zeeland Public Schools, Ottawa and Allegan Counties, Michigan, be renewed for the year 2022, to provide funds for operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and 18 mills are levied in 2022 is approximately $9,242,389 (this is a renewal of millage that will expire with the 2021 tax levy)?

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