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Posted on Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

Saline Area Schools officials present proposed $22 million bond extension for facilities, infrastructure

By Kyle Feldscher

Saline Area Schools officials made their case today at a community forum for a $22 million bond extension, detailing several projects the funds would make possible.

Superintendent Scot Graden and other school officials met with about 40 people at the Liberty School Media Center on Tuesday morning to discuss the proposed extension. Graden and Brian Marl, mayor pro tem for the city of Saline, presented several projects that would be funded by the $22 million bond extension up for a vote Feb. 22.

Graden said the bond extension would help keep school facilities and infrastructure at the level expected by the public, many of whom moved here to be in the district.

“Ultimately, it’s about our ability to attract and retain families and businesses" in Saline, he said. “Property values have declined over the last several years but they haven’t declined here to the same extent others’ have. People who move here, they choose Saline because of the school system. They go by the high school and say, ‘This is the community I want to live in.’”

The district is asking voters to approve a revamped version of the proposal rejected by voters in the 2010 primary election. The new proposal would add $22 million in new debt to the current $124 million bond by extending repayment six years from 2024 to 2030. The new proposal is for $6 million less than the bond proposal shot down in August.

The district will host another community forum about the bond proposal at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Liberty School Media Center, 7265 Saline-Ann Arbor Road. A video on the bond proposal and other information about the bond is available on the district’s website.

Graden said about 74 percent of the funds from the proposed bond extension would go toward what he termed “critical needs” in the district — building infrastructure improvements and energy updates to schools across the district. Funds from the bond proposal will also allow road construction projects at schools to improve traffic flow.

Marl said the traffic issues at some schools, like Saline High School, were becoming a problem for drivers on main roads near schools’ entrances and exits.

“I cannot emphasize enough how much of a public safety issue that is,” Marl said of the traffic. “Not only to the high school campus, but adjacent properties. I’ve gotten numerous calls from the Pittsfield Township county commissioner saying we need to do something about it, and we do.”

The bond proposal calls for no rise in the current 7-mill levy on the current bond, but extends the repayment for six additional years. The bond, which began in 2000, costs the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 about $700 yearly.

Supporters and opponents of the proposal were both well represented at the meeting.

Judy McCoy, a Saline resident who plans to vote against the proposal, said voters simply can’t afford any more taxes. She said the school district demonstrated need for the funds from the proposal but that money should not be given away based on need.

“In every instance when you give based on need, that is called Marxism, or socialism,” she said to a group of students who were in attendance. “You’re not old enough to be alive in the times of the Soviet Union, but it went down and it went down hard.”

The proposed bond would also fund the purchase of 12 buses for the district’s fleet, Graden said. According to school officials, 80 percent of the district’s bus fleet is more than 10 years old.

Graden said the age of the fleet was one of the reasons the district did not join the Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s busing consortium last year. He said the buses need to be replaced regardless of how the purchase ends up being funded.

“Avoiding the cost of new buses is not an option,” he said. “We’re going to have to pay for them.”

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at



Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

I posted this in a reply, but wanted to make sure everyone could read it. @ Jimmy Olsen, Saline teachers did, in fact, take a pay cut this year. All teachers in the state of Michigan took a 3-6% pay cut, this was mandated by the state and is across the board for all Michigan teachers.

Jimmy Olsen

Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 4:24 a.m.

@anonymous99 - Saline teachers have not taken any pay cuts and they contribute zero to their health care. Every other unit in Saline has taken cuts. I agree the budget can't be balanced by changing these statistics, but couldn't some cuts hire a few more teachers to lower class sizes ? or supplement some other things ? The bond is a good deal at this time to keep Saline schools infrastructure up to date. I will be voting yes.


Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

@ Jimmy Olsen All teachers in the state of Michigan took a pay cut this year of between 3-6%, it doesn't matter where you teach, this is universal. This pay cut is paying pensions for retired teachers, there is no guarantee that teachers that pay into this currently will receive this when they retire.


Sat, Feb 5, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

There are so many ridiculous and uninformed comments here. First of all Snapshot...Snyder's analysis of what public employees make was found to be completely in error and unscientific. He compared what public employees with college degrees (many of them Masters degrees) make to private sector people that did not have comparable education. Maybe these employees are overpaid when you compare them, as Snyder did, to McDonald's employees, and teens that work in the private sector. Find the link here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> . Did you want children in the area being taught by people without a college degree? Also, teachers have already taken a pay cut - between 3-6%. They don't get 'free' health care either. Do so many people really expect that you can balance a budget as messed up as the state's is on the backs of teachers and other employees? This bond is not a tax hike, it is much needed money to repair buildings that are in need. For the bond that was voted down before, a tough advertising campaign was ran in Saline by people that owned multiple properties and didn't want their taxes to increase. This isn't an increase either, taxes stay the same. If you want the best teachers and employees, you have to pay for them. If you want schools nicely kept, you have to pay for those too. I'm very tired of people blaming teachers and public employees for the problems in our country and state. There was mismanagement of our government's money by those in charge for a long time. Why is it the people on the bottom that are being attacked? Budget problems arose from the average citizen over spending too. Everyone needs to make changes, playing the blame game won't fix things.


Fri, Feb 4, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

@sh1 - Nice try. #1 on your list is Cuba - $9,900 per capita in GPD, 18.7% of GDP spent on ALL levels of education - meaning about $ 1851 per person in education spending The US on the other hand averages $47,700 per capita in GDP and spends 5.7% of GDP on education or $2718 per person on education. So the US, way, way down your list spend roughly 50% more than Cuba does. Sorry, your statistic is at best misleading.


Fri, Feb 4, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

@David, don't you think the amount of dollars should be proportional to the size of the population served? If the US and Switzerland spend the same amount, then our per-pupil amount would be tiny compared to theirs.

David Parker

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 12:32 a.m.

source of fact that US is 2nd in world in education spending: Wikipedia and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as I'm sure others. We're tied with Switzerland. 2nd in ACTUAL DOLLARS not %. The % logic is silly in my opinion. also progressive (in the liberal sense) and some of us would say socialist. An anology would be going some place and buying something and the price is based on income instead of same price for same thing. big mac for me $1 and the millionaire $20. again I say silly. @ Jimmy Olsen: this website doesn't go anywhere: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;id=52</a> Again I'd like to get detail on what needs fixing. I know it was asked for at last Forum. Some of the stuff is builders fault and /or inspectors and probably both. I'm sure everyone was assured everything fine back then too. Let me guess, company bankrupt, owner gone, probably someplace warm with someone too young. For me, it needs verification.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

My wife and I along with 4 other family members will be voting no once again. This is a tax increase , the interest alone will add a million dollars of debt each year which must be paid for. Saline has great schools no doubt, I graduated from Saline as have two of my 4 kids. One is in high school, the youngest will soon be a student. But until the BOA gets the SEA to the table and get's some reasonable contribution from the union this millage will get shot down once again. The money the school district needs can be found in cost concessions from the teachers union. Saline teachers pay ZERO for their healthcare, that must and will change. Scott Graden's comments have been rather insulting toward the taxpayers. He thinks this got voted down because we were not informed and educated. He could not be more wrong.

average joe

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Saline school voters- Before you vote, either for or against, get as much information about specific 'genuine' needs that the school board has in the bond proposal. Find out what projects are in this proposal that were included in the last millage that passed. In my school district, some projects included in their latest 'bond extension' were supposed to be done with the last millage passed years before. No one holds the school administrators/building managers accountable to their promises/projections, &amp; no one seems to know if all the projects are completed.

Basic Bob

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

@swmprnt13, Those of us who do not live in Saline Schools should not comment? Then how about if Saline CITY folks don't comment about traffic conditions on county roads, such as State Road. I can understand why Marl would want to support the local school bond issue, but where is the connection between school bonds and county roads in the neighboring township or Kristin Judge? It is time to stop complaining about the Walmart traffic - the real issue is too many high school students with cars, and too many dropoffs at Harvest Elementary. Even plush new school buses will not fix this problem. The Saline parents must fix this for themselves by making their kids ride the bus to school.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

It's a 'No-Brainer'. I'll vote yes. Essentially re-financing a debt to save money in the long run. Makes absolute sense to me. Roofs will fail. Buses will break down. Sounds like Saline is preparing for the future and protecting our investments. Great schools take great leadership and I trust our administration and board to do the right thing.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

This link shows the U.S. is #89 in proportion of GDP spent on education. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

David Parker

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

that site is using % not dollars. That simply says US is rich. but US spends 2nd most in dollars on education. facts are stubborn things.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

Education is the only field we say needs to be improved without spending. Do you feel the same way about national defense?

average joe

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Your first sentence is false, unless you can identify who &quot;we&quot; is.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

@Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball Chelsea did address health care costs last year by negotiating a hard cap on insurance costs. Saline should do the same. However, in 2009 Chelsea approved an $18.7 million bond to address building issues. They, like most other districts including Saline, use bonds to pay for capital projects. Chelsea also closed an elementary, so did Saline. Chelsea lowered their overall budget last year, so did Saline (by $1 million). So if Chelsea is the model, why not vote yes and hold the Board of Education and Administration to getting savings from the teachers. I have daughters in the system and want the savings to be used to lower class size and bring back elementary counselors. Janitors, Bus Drivers and Administrators took wage and benefit concessions. But it seems like it that is lost on people or was it just not enough to make you happy?

Darcy Reichard

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

Saline taxpayers have already voted a bond proposal down in August. The school board seems to think that the proposal didn't pass because the voters were not properly informed about what the bond was to be used for--i.e. what the school system needs. I think it more likely that Saline taxpayers believe, as I do, that the school system has ample funds already and ought to be making cuts appropriately in order to live within its means. How can we teach our children fundamental principles like &quot;don't live in debt&quot; if we allow our public institutions to accumulate (and extend) such massive debt? I'll be voting no.

Jimmy Olsen

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 4:30 a.m.

@David Baxter How are you attempting to get details? The Saline Area Schools web-site has details: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;id=52</a> Stop by the district office - there is a detailed list of all recommended projects.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

It is definitely a tax increase. In fact, it's the most cynical of tax increases - it's one that doesn't take effect for 14 years. Think of it this way. You would like a fancy new plasma television for your family room. But the 56-inch model you have your heart set on costs $1,000, and your credit cards are already maxed out. Retailers realized this was happening to a lot of people who couldn't control their spending. So they devised a plan where you didn't have to pay for the television until 2013. Problem solved. Now you can afford the plasma television. But what do you do in 2013 when you want another new toy? Saline is doing the same thing. It has exhausted its current sources of funding. So now it's requesting a new tax that you don't have to pay until 2024. Problem solved? Well, what happens when the children of 2024 are faced with a desire for a fancy new basketball court or science lab. By then, they'll be raising taxes for the children of 2060. They'll just keep spending money they don't have, and pushing the burden onto their children, then their grandchildren, then their great-grandchildren. That's what's known as a Ponzi scheme, and it's illegal, except when a government grants itself permission to do it. It's not socialism, it's just stupidity and a refusal to accept that we are creating bills that we cannot pay.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : noon

I rarely agree with you but that is a very good analogy.

David Parker

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

The people who are voting for this tend to equate spend more money = better schools. Unfortunately that's simply not true. If it was true US would be #2 in the world in education and it isn't. But voting for this, will bring more debt. That is for certain. Technology will have what a 5 year life. Buses 10-15. Debt will go on for 20 more years before paid off and at about $1M per year in interest. As in the paperwork, the $22M will grow to $29M before anything paid on it. They have to pay other debt 1st. To date after numerous attempts to get details on repairs. Still don't have. The presenters should have details on what $22M is for. Instead it's trust us, or we'll get it to you or we'll explain it better this time. I think Saline should AGAIN vote no.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

What data are you using in your US is #2 at spending statement?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

I bet all of you that are against this proposal or think it is a tax increase have NEVER refinanced their own loans on their homes to take advantages of a better interest rate, thus reducing their monthly payment or being able to pay off their loans quicker? PEOPLE Wake Up!!! This is not going to increase your taxes. Even those who have children in elementary school will not see a raise in their taxes for for the time that their children are in school. This is a means of extending a good credit rating, and getting better financing rates on borrowed funds. Whether you like it nor not, Saline Area Schools is a great schools system that needs to be maintained. Many of us moved here to take advantage of the great facilities, teachers and programs that they offer. But just like your car, if you do not maintain it and sometimes improve it like getting better tires; it will start to fall apart and not work as efficiently as when you first purchased it. If you live in Saline Schools, please add your suggestions for making a it a better school system, if not and you do not vote in the school district, then keep your posts to your one levies. My child will graduate from SHS in a couple of years, but I believe in creating an economic means for keeping this school system in the same or better shape than it its today. I am all in for this funding proposal, and have also donated extra through different avenues to support programs and education at SHS. This has added to funds to be able to stretch the budget with out raising anyone's taxes. If you are on a limited budget, this extension will NOT increase your taxes. But if we do not approve it now, the next time the School Board asks for funding it DEFINATELY will?

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

So looking a little deeper into this request - it would appear that the Saline tax payers already pay about $1,000/student just in interest payments per year. That is a lot of interest when you only make about $11,000 in income per student. Also, much of these funding outlays will not go toward long term projects - technology for one. Every dollar &quot;invested&quot; in technology has about a 4-5 year life as the technology is replaced about that often. This Technology funding should be spent evenly over the life of the loan so that the school district isn't begging for more technology &quot;investment&quot; when the next I-podpad big thing' hits the district. Lastly, as you know all too well, the State has just been hammered economically - businesses have lost a lot of customers. Few firms are growing and mostly are shrinking, save a few. The Tax base has really been hit. How many homes in Saline are under water? This is not the climate to extend taxes - Government entities have to find other ways to save and cut back - Everyone else does - Everyone! why not schools. Chelsea schools made a big change to health care and were rewarded with a huge cost savings = money to fix aging building with. Saline should do the same. Where are the cutbacks? Where is the efficiency? Vote No - again.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

Happy Puppy must not have suffered any income decreases, pension defaults, corporate bankruptcy, increased healthcare costs, or other loss of income. The salaries, pensions, and benefits of public employees have actually increased while the private sector suffers. I think this is what's meant by not wanting to pay increased taxes. The bond issue is an extension, why didn't it do the job it was supposed to do? Could it be the money was mismanaged or not applied as it should have been? Check out Snyders new study on public salaries. 85% of revenue is going to employees of the school district, maybe they should pony up for the new busses instead of homeowners.

Happy Puppy

Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

Both my husband and I have been unemployed in the last ten years, but we live in a reasonable house and have money in the bank so we can keep paying taxes, house payments and car payments. A bond extension is a refinance - I suppose all the No voters have never refinanced their homes because they got it perfect the first time. My first interest rate on this house was 5.5% for 30 years, I am down to 3.5% for 15 years, should I not have done refied? If the school can save money in the long run with this refi - do it. The teacher's contract has nothing to do with this, their time will come next year. All the other groups (admin, support) have taken concessions, I say thanks and lets repay them by voting for the extension and help them keep their jobs.


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 10:48 p.m.

It's got my vote, keep my tax rate where it is at and fix what needs to be fixed. The operational costs will need to be addressed soon in Saline and in Lansing. I also find it interesting that Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan and Yspi-Lincoln have passed similar bond proposals in the last three years during a down economy. Somehow those communities have not become like the former Soviet Union, or have they?


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

Who would have thought drivers may turn left into the school and need a turn lane ? Here we go again fixing things that should have been done right the first time. Pittsfield should have no complaints about traffic in this area after allowing a Walmart this close to the school. A horrible job of road/ driveway plans .

Happy Puppy

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

But we aren't paying more taxes, this is not an increase. If people can't afford their current taxes, maybe they shouldn't have bought that 500K house. My experience in Saline is that people are buying way too much house then when the hard times hit, complain they can't afford house payments, taxes, etc and we should feel sorry for them. No thanks. My 2008 school tax was $3745, 2009 was $2834, 2010 was $2824 - trending down. I know my SEV has gone down (since I am not planning to sell soon I don't care) so my taxes are going down, why are all the No voters taxes going up? I would love for someone to prove to me taxes are increasing - they can't so they rely on ridiculous arguments equating a bond extension to Marxism.


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

I trust that the good people of Saline will be able and willing to dig a little deeper to fund this and not have those involved in educating their children be too adversley affected. After all, look what underfunding the infrastructure did for the Detoit Public schools.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

A &quot;bond extension&quot; is still a tax increase. In this case, it's one levied against our children. In economic times like these, the schools have to cut costs. Unfortunately, that has to take place on the state level as well.