Otsego schools seek bond proposal with no yearly increase

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom

Voters in Allegan, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties who are in the Otsego Public Schools district will be asked to allow the schools to borrow $6,960,000 for building, furnishing and equipping an early childhood center and acquiring, installing and equipping school facilities with instructional technology.
No additional millage is being sought for the proposal.
Otsego provides preschool through the tuition-based Learn ‘n Grow Preschool, which has an annual waiting list due to limited space. The school also offers the Great Start Readiness Program through AAESA and the Head Start program by the Community Action of Allegan County.
With a separate Early Childhood Center, the schools could house and expand the Learn ‘n Grow preschool along with housing the other preschool programs and provide daycare before and after preschool. The Early Childhood Center would have 10-12 classrooms, include a nature-based preschool and large activity room. There would also be unfinished space for future expansion.
Otsego Public Schools is excited to have also received a community donation of $500,000 that will allow us to attain our long-range goal of providing a universal preschool for 3 and 4 years,” said superintendent Jeff Haase. “In addition, this space will allow us to provide childcare for 3 and 4 years, something that we haven’t been able to provide given our current space.”
The schools are also proposing to provide 1:1 technology to provide devices for each student K-12 with a multi-year rollout. Devices would be kept in the classrooms at the elementary level.
By refinancing existing bonds, the school board saved a large amount of interest costs and reduced the maturity date from 2040 to 2034. Because of this savings, the board is asking voters to approve moving the payoff from 2034 back to the original 2040 date. This would leave the millage rate the same.
According to some of the ballot language, the estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2018, under current law, is 0.94 mills for a 0.0 mill net increase over the prior year’s levy.
The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is 30 years. The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 0.72 mill.
The school district expects to borrow from the State School Bond Qualification and Loan Program to pay debt service on these bonds. The estimated total principal amount of that borrowing is $2,572,599 and the estimated total interest to be paid is $6,528,422. The estimated duration of the millage levy associated with that borrowing is 21 years and the estimated computed millage rate for such levy is 7.50 mills.
The total amount of qualified bonds currently outstanding is $53,060,000. The total amount of qualified loans currently outstanding is approximately $2,084,455.
“This is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to provide an early childhood center unlike anything offered in Allegan County and to enhance our students’ knowledge with technology to better prepare them for the future that awaits them,” said Haase. “To be able to do this without raising millage rates is something we’re very proud of; it’s an exciting time at Otsego Public Schools.”

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