When is the election?
Tuesday, May 2, 2017. You may vote by absentee ballot as long as the county clerk receives your ballot by April 29, 2017.
How much will this cost the average homeowner in the district?
It is estimated that the average cost will be between four and six dollars per month added to the current tax bill.
What will be on the ballot?
On May 2, voters in the Harrison Community Schools district will be asked to consider approving a two-phase, $26.7 million bond issue that would be used to renovate, rebuild and implement numerous improvements on the buildings, facilities and grounds of the HCS campus. Passage of the bond would allow for sorely-needed funds to be used to improve the district in three crucial areas - Safety, Security and Opportunity. If the bond is defeated, our students will be put at greater risk of falling behind their peers in comparable neighboring districts, where numerous similar bond issues have passed in recent history.
What is meant by a “two-phase” project?
One vote occurs for the sale of bonds over two separate periods of time. After voter approval on May 2, the first set of bonds will be sold in August, 2017 to raise the necessary monies for the renovation and construction work on the high school, middle school and athletic complex.
The second sale of bonds will take place in August, 2020 to raise the necessary monies for the renovation and construction work on Larson and Hillside Elementary Schools.
All work should be complete no later than 2022.
What will be the configuration of the district after the completion of the project?
The high school will remain a 9-12 building. The middle school will continue to house grades 6-8. Larson will become K- 5. Hillside, following renovation, will house district administrative offices and Early Childhood classrooms. The current Community Education Center will be once again serve as Alternative High School.
What major renovations will be made to the high school and Larson Elementary?
Both buildings will be totally reworked so that interior walls are added to close the Open Concept classroom areas. The Open Concept was unique in the early 70s, but today there are virtually no such classrooms left. For the first time in more than four decades, Harrison students will work in modern-yet-traditional classrooms, doing away with the Open Concept for good.
What security features will be added to each school?
Compared to just a generation ago, the business of keeping students safe has changed dramatically. All buildings will receive secured entry points, cameras and new door locking systems. Our school should offer students the chance to perform in safe, up-to-date environments, whether it’s the classroom, the playing field or the stage, and the issues we face on that front can no longer be ignored.
What improvements will be made to the parking lots and bus drop-off and pickups?
At the high school and middle school, parking lots will be upgraded to include new curbing to divide visitor parking from bus drop-offs and pickups. Larson parking will also be upgraded to allow for the increase of traffic and safety for visitors and busses.
What other overdue upgrades will be made in our buildings?
All buildings will be upgraded with new boilers, electrical and lighting. Adding new LED fixtures and modernizing the heating systems will not only improve the learning environment, but will save the district money in the long term by reducing utility costs.
Won’t you use the bond money to fund salaries, operations, etc.?
Absolutely not. State law says the funding can’t be used for salaries or operations; debt funding can only be used for the agreed-upon scope of projects and cannot be used for day-to-day operations. The areas funded by this bond will be facilities improvements, safety and security.
How old are the buildings affected by the vote on May 2?
The current ages of the buildings are:
- High School - 44 years old
- Middle School - 22 years old
- Larson Elementary - 44 years old
- Hillside Elementary – Between 58 and 69 years old, depending on section
If the bond is approved by voters on May 2, what is the timetable for the project?
Phase One will begin in the Spring of 2018. Construction on this phase will be completed no later than the Spring of 2019. Phase Two will begin in the Spring of 2021 and will be completed no later than the Spring of 2022.
Will local individuals be able to purchase the bonds?
Yes. When hiring the financial company who handles the bond sale, it will be made clear that we want the option to sell locally.
Will local contractors be used on the project?
Local business will have an opportunity to bid as subcontractors.
How was it determined to begin with the high school/middle school instead of the elementary?
After looking at the scope of the project, it was determined that by renovating the high school and middle school first, more students will be impacted when they transition from the elementary. Also, time will be needed to plan the construction and renovation of Larson while still allowing school to continue.
How much has the district spent on repairing or replacing facilities in recent years?
The cost of repairs, patches and quick fixes to the HCS campus, including roofs, parking lots, heating/ventilation and more since 2012 is approximately $352,000.
What options were explored by the board before it arrived at this request?
After completing the facility audit and hosting public meetings with community members, the scope of the work was determined and approved by the board to address the most dire needs of the district. Talks included the location of students, age of the buildings and the best options to provide improved instruction and safety for all students. It’s also worth noting the committee’s extensive efforts to share information with the community. Between now and May 2, committee members will work to engage the community at every possible turn by presenting information at public meetings for city, county and township governments, service clubs, church groups and more. It is the committee’s sincere desire to ensure the electorate is as informed as possible on May 2.
Why did the board decide against a sinking fund?
While there are definitely merits to a sinking fund, for the situation at HCS, given the rate of deterioration of our facilities, it’s not a viable option. There are too many fires that need to be put out, and the board felt the district doesn’t have the time or the money to wait for the help that a sinking fund would provide. The final list of projects that would be addressed with passage of this bond is more than 25 items long – all vetted and discussed and debated for months now. Passage of the bonds would allow the district to tackle all those problems within five years.
But a sinking fund produces limited funds and imposes serious restrictions on the projects for which the funds could be used. In those same five years, the district would have to squirrel away every dime generated by a sinking fund just to pay for a new roof for the high school, for example, and nothing else. We need to address these issues immediately. The district is in dire need of roofs on multiple buildings today, safe and secure entrances for kids today, reliable classrooms today.
Why was it determined to abate and abandon portions of Hillside Elementary?
This was a difficult decision that was made following significant examination. For many community members who attended Hillside, there is a strong emotional connection to the building and the memories made there. But after an extensive assessment of the entire building, it was determined that to upgrade and restore the complete building would simply be too costly and fiscally irresponsible. Ultimately, the cost of building new portions on campus compared to renovating old portions of Hillside was the determining factor for the committee. Pending passage of the bond on May 2, students will now be on one campus south of Spruce Street, resulting in increased safety and convenience for parents. Elementary staff will now again operate under one roof, working collaboratively to improve delivery of instruction and eliminating a transition from one building to another.
What is the plan for Amble Elementary?
The bond will not cover any renovations or abandonment/demolition of Amble School. The HCS Board of Education continues to consider its options regarding that building.
Where do I vote?
Townships whose voting will occur at regular polling places are Arthur, Franklin, Hamilton and Hayes. In addition to serving its residents as their voting precinct, the City of Harrison will also host the vote at the new City Hall for Frost, Greenwood, Hatton, Summerfield and Winterfield. In Gladwin County, voters in Sherman Township will vote at their regular polling place.
How do I register to vote?
You may register with the county, city or township clerk’s office in which you reside. You may also register at the nearest Secretary of State’s office. To be eligible to vote in the May 2 election, you must be registered by March 31, 2017.
How do I obtain an absentee ballot?
You need to contact the clerk who oversees your voting precinct (County, City or Township) for an absentee ballot application. The forms can be returned via mail, but all absentee ballots must be received no later than April 29, 2017.
Who should I call if I have a question?
If you need further information on the scope of the work, costs or general information about the bond proposal, please contact:
Superintendent, Harrison Community Schools