In 2016, all of the schools’ existing bond debt – think home mortgages – will be paid off. Property owners currently pay $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed property value for these bonds that built projects such as Monroe High School on Tester Road, modernized Maltby Elementary, added Hidden River Middle and constructed Fryelands Elementary. It has been more than a decade since voters have approved bond funding for school facilities.
If approved by voters, a renewal of this tax rate could generate $110.9 million. This amount would allow Monroe schools to qualify for about $21.3 million in state construction assistance. Adding in $640,000 in developer-paid mitigation fees when new homes are built, our local public schools could make more than $132 million in improvements using the same bond tax rate being paid today.
Our community has told the School Board in a variety of ways and over several months of discussions that improving schools and maintaining the 2015 bond tax rate are vital. Volunteers serving for 13 months on the Capital Facility Steering Committee made that recommendation in June. Those sentiments were echoed in the more than 1,200 responses to this fall’s School Board Listening Tour in both online and in-person feedback.
On April 28, the School Board will ask voters to renew the $1.48 bond tax rate for a total of $110.9 million in local funds to:
- Modernize Park Place Middle School
- Modernize & Expand Salem Woods Elementary School
- Expand Hidden River Middle School
- Consolidate & Expand Frank Wagner Elementary School
- Catch up on smaller facility improvements and major maintenance at all schools
- Build ball fields at Monroe High School
We welcome additional questions and invitations to offer in-person presentations about this proposal.
Why do we need bonds when the state pays for basic education?
The court has made it very clear that the state does not provide adequate funding for what is considered “basic education.” It does not fund the actual costs of many, many programs. It is unknown how the level of funding will grow or if construction will be included by the 2018 court-ordered timeline to fully fund basic education.
The state does provide “matching” dollars for qualified school construction projects. Eligibility is determined by a complex formula that includes enrollment and current facilities, even if those facilities are not in an area where the number of children attending school is growing. These “matching” funds are only provided after the local schools have paid for the work. About $21.3 million in state funding is estimated if voters approve the proposed bond request.
What if you get more state dollars or find savings in these projects?
The School Board clearly states in their action to put this bond on the ballot that should additional state assistance be received, the money will be used to purchase land for future school and/or support sites or to add to existing school/support sites. A public process is required to decide how any additional funds should be spent should projects be completed under estimated budgets.
What is the difference between a bond and a levy?
A simple way to remember the difference between bonds and levies is “B”onds are for “b”uildings and levies typically are for “l”earning expenses like textbooks, teachers or rides to school. Levies are collected over time so dollars flow in twice a year for the duration of the time approve by voters. Bonds are more like a home mortgage where an amount is borrowed and then paid back over time. Typically, construction projects need bond financing as the cost of those projects are more than a levy could collect in a timely manner.
Watch this helpful video which describes the relationship between school bonds & levies and property values.