Source: Sherman Publications

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Tentative no vote on Goodrich School bond extension

November 03, 2010

Dear Editor,

I am trying to reconcile the limited information provided on the proposed bond and several dissonant issues.

1. In the beginning planning, the $30 million figure kept being mentioned in the press, but it was never stated that amount was based on a wish list compiled by school and community members that was never really prioritized and basically died with the departure of the superintendent. Having attended the meetings and served on one of the committees (technology), a long-term view coupled with diminishing revenues was never discussed. One point that was mentioned was that it is not fiscally sound to buy computers using a 30-year bond and that some type of sinking fund needed to be created. How different would the recommendations be after four more years of Michigan's eroding economy and an uncertain future?

2. From what I can understand about the School Bond Loan Fund, it was created to provide a "bridge loan" to communities who needed additional funds based on future increasing student population and revenues. This is not the case in Goodrich— this loan would be a like a second mortgage taken on the bond. However, this mortgage would not have a specific interest rate or ending date. Hasn't this type of financial practice caused enough problems? We need to see enrollment and revenue projections along with the projected total cost of the bond. Community input and direction should have been re-solicited before specific numbers were made public. The bond issue has been put on a fast track in order to obtain more funds than we would legally be allowed to borrow just a few months later. Is this prudent?

3. Why hasn't the teacher contract been fast tracked? When I look at test scores compared to state and county scores, they are always excellent. Staff is doing what the community has asked them to do - prepare our children. I get discouraged when I hear a rumor that the superintendent has announced that he will break the union and its stance on wages and insurance and the other superintendents can thank him for it later. Rumor or not, the contract negotiations have gone on for too long.

A Finnish politician, Harri Holkeri, has often been quoted on consensus building. He states that it "begins with the idea that you have you own truth, but that the negotiator on the other side of the table has his own truth as well." It is my hope that we begin to see both sides of the table on all three of the above items as a starting point, because a myriad of questions need to be addressed.

As a final note, I believe in supporting Goodrich Community Schools, its students, staff, and facilities. I have never voted "No" on a school bond issue. However, it seems that communication, the only tool for effective consensus building, has been lacking.

Paul Witek