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Bond debate comes to a close



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May 02, 2012 - Clarkston schools' $20 million bond proposal is many things to many people.

To Scott Banks, media teacher at Clarkston High School, it's a gut check for the community.

"What do we believe," Banks said. "Schools are at the center of the Clarkston community when you think of Clarkston, you think of its schools. We've always taken care of the kids."

For Betty Reilly of CRISIS, Citizens for Responsible, Intelligent, Spending In Schools, it means unsustainable debt.

"Clarkston Community Schools' current debt is more than double Michigan's average and more than triple the U.S. average," Reilly said.

Dividing the $198 million in total principal and interest, according to Clarkston's June 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, amongst Clarkston's 8,000 students results in almost $25,000 per student.

"This bond should not divide the community," she said. "We need to come up with a creative way to live within our budgets and still provide our kids with a great education."

Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock sees the bond as the path to achieving the schools' mission to "cultivate thinkers, learners, and positive contributors to a global society."

"I'm extremely proud that we are putting this bond out to the voters," Rock said. "We've really thought carefully about the type of learning we want for all students and the needs of our district for 15 years. It is very exciting to think about the ways that this type of thinking and planning will affect our students and their futures."

If approved, the bond would increase Clarkston Community Schools homestead property tax from 7 mills to 8 mills. One mill is $1 collected for each $1,000 of assessed property valuation, or one-half market value.

Half of the bond would be used to fund individual computer tablets for students and teachers, wireless Internet, and other technology. The other half would fund roof, boiler, plumbing, parking lot, and other capital improvement projects.

The bond would be non-qualified by the state, but the Board of Education approved a resolution not to levy more than one mill to pay off the bond by 2029.

Local precincts will be open 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 8. For more information, check The Clarkston News coverage at Clarkstonnews.com, school district's website at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us, and CRISIS' website, www.csdbond.yolasite.com.

Phil Custodio

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