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On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, voters in Kalamazoo Public Schools will be asked to vote on a bond issue to update the district’s buildings and equipment.

Q: What is on the ballot?

A: Kalamazoo Public Schools is asking the public to support a $62 million bond issue. This bond issue provides funds to replace outdated facilities and equipment such as roofs, boilers, parking lots, lighting, windows, buses and technology (62% of the total bond); improve instructional technology (15%); replace the north portion of Milwood Elementary School (9%); relocate the transportation center and add space to Edison Environmental Science Academy (8%); and construct a second gymnasium at Kalamazoo Central High School (6%).

Q: Was the community surveyed to assess support for this proposal?

A: Yes. Public Sector Consultants, an independent consulting firm, surveyed likely voters. When voters were asked how likely they would be to support a proposal to add half a mill to their taxes, 69% said they would definitely or probably support the proposal, compared with 19% that said they would definitely or probably not support the proposal.

When asked how likely they would be to support a proposal to add one more mill to their taxes, 59% said they would definitely or probably support the proposal, compared with 28% that said they would definitely or probably not support the proposal.

Q: How much would this millage cost taxpayers?

A: If approved, this proposal would increase tax rates by 7/10 of a mill, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $35 per year.

Q. Why replace outdated facilities and equipment?

A. The facilities and equipment used by Kalamazoo Public Schools are public property. As such, the district has a duty to make needed replacements on a timely basis. If not, serious issues could develop that would substantially hurt the learning environment and/or create safety issues. Additionally, delaying certain types of replacements, such as roofs, could result in significantly greater costs to the taxpayers.

Q. Why improve instructional technology?

A. Technology is a critical factor in the learning process. Teachers and students need up-to-date technology to provide students the educational experiences that they require to prepare for a 21st century world and job market.

Q: Why is the north portion of Milwood Elementary School being recommended for replacement?

A: Kalamazoo Public Schools retained TowerPinkster, a local architectural and engineering firm, to assess of the district’s facilities. The assessment pointed out that the north portion of Milwood Elementary School was in the greatest need of replacement of all district facilities. That portion of the building was constructed in 1921. .

Q:  Why do we need to relocate the transportation center?

A: The transportation center is located on the same site as the Edison Environmental Science Academy. With approximately 115 buses on a very tight site, the site is extremely congested. There are no parking spots for additional buses that will be needed as enrollment continues to increase, and many drivers must park throughout the neighborhood streets. Additionally, there is also not adequate space at Edison Environmental Science Academy. Moving the transportation center will help to provide better transportation services and increase the space for Edison Environmental Science Academy students.

Q: Why is the second gymnasium at Kalamazoo Central High School needed?

A: Besides Kalamazoo Central, all other high schools in the athletic conference have access to second gymnasiums for instructional and extracurricular activities. This gymnasium is needed to accommodate modern instructional and athletic needs. With only one gymnasium at Kalamazoo Central High School, some students are finishing practice very late on school nights.

Q: What would be the impact to Kalamazoo Public Schools if this bond question does not pass?

A: Most of the projects funded by this bond are for basic needs. If the bond does not pass, many of these projects would still need to be addressed through the general budget, which would require cuts to budgets presently used for educational programs for students.

Q: When is the last day to register to vote?

A: The last day to register to vote in this election is April 8, 2013.

Q:  How can I find out where I vote?

A: You can find out where to vote at the Secretary of State website (www.mich.gov/vote). You can also find out where you vote by contacting the Clerk’s office in the city or township in which you reside. These offices are as follows: City of Kalamazoo, 337-8793; Oshtemo Township, 216-5224: Kalamazoo Township, 381-8080; and Texas Township, 978-0710.

Q: Can I vote by absentee ballot?

A: Absentee ballots may be requested from the City or Township Clerk where you reside.

Please vote in this election. The polls will be open from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

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