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Board approves placing tech bond on February ballot

November 28, 2013
The fate of the Grosse Pointe Public School System's $50 million technology bond to upgrade and improve district infrastructure, security systems and technology, now rests in the hands of taxpayers.

On Monday, Nov. 25, the GPPSS Board of Education approved placing the multi-series bond on the Feb. 25 ballot. The bond passed on a 5-1 vote, with trustee Cindy Pangborn dissenting and trustee Tom Jakubiec absent from the meeting.

Fearing the community backlash against the cost of a single proposal, Pangborn favored split proposals, one dedicated to infrastructure and other necessities and the other for "above-and-beyond" items.

"We are asking the community for all or nothing," said Pangborn "If we don't have this in an A-B concept, we stand the chance of losing everything and another eight months before we can get a vote on it in November.

She also showed concern for the $60,000 cost to the district to hold the February election. Per state law, the district must pay $10,000 for each municipality involved in the election.

"I am desperate in my emotions of getting this technology passed for this infrastructure," she said. "But I think by giving an ultimatum of all or nothing, we stand to lose not only getting the infrastructure but the comparison and an upset community of spending $60,000-plus if this doesn't pass."

Money generated from the first three years of the 10-year, 2.28-mill proposal helps fund much-needed infrastructure upgrades, as well as improve safety and security systems and augment daily instruction in each of the 15 schools with new and upgraded classroom technology. Years seven to 10 are for device refreshes and additional upgrades as needed.

Administration has said on multiple occasions that 85 percent of the district's technology devices, such as desktop computers and laptops, are 7 years or older and no longer capable of running the latest software updates. As well, the district's network is operating at or near capacity, rendering the classroom technology sluggish and more susceptible to crashing, thus detracting from students' learning experience.

"To deny the (students) access to any option for technology for another year, to me, is when I have failed on my fiduciary obligation," said Lois Valente, board secretary. "So, I've done the that best I can; I think everybody on this board feels very passionate about the position that they're in Ö it's time to let the public decide whether or not this is going to be a tax that they want to, or a debt that they want us to incur."

The proposal would cost the owner of a $300,000 home about $350 a year.

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