Bedford Public Schools discuss possible $34M bond levy

Bedford Public Schools discuss possible $34M bond levy
(Source: WTOL)

LAMBERTVILLE,MI (WTOL) - Bedford Public Schools held the first of two forums to discuss a potential tax levy for the November ballot on Tuesday.

Tuesday's public meeting was set to announce what the levy might involve and see how the community feels about it.

The school board members, many of whom are teachers, came out to observe community reactions so that they can make a more informed decision on what to put on November's ballot.

Jenna Biggs is a trustee on the board of education. She was thrilled to hear what the community had to say and looks forward to the next meeting on Thursday.

"The community is positive, and we want to be able to get the correct information out to them to be able to make this a successful bond, as our last bond was not successful and we want to ensure that we can get the whole community behind this. I think it's a really good message tonight, that they're willing to do that," Biggs said.

Board members are looking at a $34 million bond to be collected over 20-25 years just to make repairs to their buildings, which the district says needs to be done to improve safety.

Tuesday's forum had to be moved to Monroe Road Elementary instead of the high school due to a power outage.

Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carl Schultz sees the need for updates, but also wants to keep them modest while the ability to do so is available.

"It's a modest bond that's focused really on infrastructure, on safety and security, and really on immediate needs," Schultz said.

This bond levy would affect every home in the district. The amount homeowners would pay depends on the value of their property.

Aaron Adler attended the meeting to see what could become of a school system through which all four of his children are going. He believes it is more about the people than the money.

"I think of all the things to throw money at, my kids' schools is a great thing to throw money at, and of course, I'll support it, and that's fine. But. I think $34
million could be $3 million just as easily," Adler said.

A calculator will go up on the Bedford Public Schools website soon so that taxpayers can see what this might cost, likely to the tune of a couple hundred bucks per year.

This is a tax some consider negligible, especially when it comes to creating a safer environment that's more conducive to learning.

Jen Brush is a teacher who leads a Facebook group based on community outreach. She said that they live in a community of subdivisions and that elections have changed to the point where there are no longer phone trees.

It is vital to talk to your neighbors about the fate of the community, she said.

"I thought they did an excellent job. I think that they've done their homework. I trust them completely," Brush said, "They are a very unique board of education and administration in this state. I've worked in Monroe County for 18 years as a teacher."

Bedford has also had a survey done showing how these funds could better their ability to follow ALICE active shooter procedures.

"The district has been working tirelessly to construct a list of immediate facility needs that we need to upgrade. In addition, through surveys, building evaluations and research, we have identified a number of safety concerns that we also would like to address.The next step in the process is to engage our community in an open dialogue to determine if we have missed anything and to share where we are currently," Schultz said.

The second forum is set to be held Thursday in the Bedford High School auditorium at 3 p.m. The board of education will also be discussing the proposal as an agenda item at their Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the BHS Media Center.

All board meetings, including Committee of the Whole meetings, are open to the public to attend.

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