When we first examined the details of the Bloomfield Hills Schools' $200.155 million bond proposal to support school renovation, additions, security and the movement of some school populations, it was in February, when it was proposed for the May ballot – before the coronavirus pandemic, before over a million Michiganders were laid off, furloughed or fired, including many in this area. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was just a few short months ago.
In March, the board of education wisely pulled the bond proposal from the May ballot, moving it to the August primary – a smart move anyway, as we believe May elections should go the way of February elections, and cease to exist by edict of the state legislature.
The Bloomfield Hills Schools district had been looking at school improvements as well as safety and technology upgrades for the last six years, and put together a wide-ranging committee comprising teachers, parents, former parents, residents, community officials, students, clergy and other stakeholders, called the Scope and Design Committee.
Of the $200 million ask, approximately $33 million in costs are immediate needs. The rest are improvements, safety and security upgrades at all schools, renovation costs and a district realignment that would take into account how students learn and will learn for the next several decades – taking the three middle schools and combining them into two middle schools, including re-opening the former Lahser High School and renovating it as a middle school, with Bloomfield Hills Middle School as the other site; significant renovations at Conant and Way elementary schools; the movement of Lone Pine elementary to West Hills Middle School, which would become the new Lone Pine, with renovations and updates; Eastover would move to East Hills Middle School, which would become Eastover, also with renovations and updates; Bloomin' Preschool would be housed and expanded at Eastover and Conant; and Bloomfield Hills High School would receive health and wellness upgrades, among other improvements.
This is a new bond proposal. If approved by voters, the school district’s tax rate is projected to increase by 1.85 mills. A mill is equal to $1 in property tax per every $1,000 in taxable value, which is typically about half of a home's market value.
We were impressed in February with the district's plan to redesign and realign the schools and the district, and a second examination does not change our mind. But we recognize the significant cost which it comes with. Education is an investment in our future, and there is a price tag to go with it. If you can afford to, we recommend you vote YES.