Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pontiac School Millage: What FAILED in May should FAIL in August..Vote NO Aug. 4

Hi All,

This blog is mainly for the Bloomfield Township residents who happen to live in the PONTIAC SCHOOL DISTRICT and for other taxpayers in other communities that live in the Pontiac School District.
(Please forward this blog to those that live in the PONTIAC school district.)

Last May 2015, the Pontiac School Board had a millage on the ballot that FAILED.  Well, here it is AGAIN on the ballot August 4, 2015.  How much is it costing the Pontiac School District to put this on the ballot in August?  What if it FAILS AGAIN?  Will the voters see it for a third time?

Below is the official language of the ballot issue:


Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in School District of the City of Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan, be increased by and the board of education be authorized to levy not to exceed 2.87 mills ($2.87 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 5 years, 2015 to 2019, inclusive, to create a sinking fund for construction or repair of school buildings
and all other purposes authorized by law and state agency interpretation;
the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2015 is approximately $7,082,074?

Click here to see the Pontiac School District literature to vote in favor of the millage.   

I recommend a NO VOTE....AGAIN !!!  
The words in red above ...I did for won't find it that way on the ballot.   
Of course buildings that are repaired are healthier and safer for the education of children.
I would hope that an evaluation of the buildings currently in use have been completed and a list of must have repairs are so noted.  The taxpayers should be given an idea of how the $7+million each year for 5 years will be spent.  Personally, I would not vote to hand over $35 million dollars unless I had a much better idea of exactly where it will be spent.
"other purposes"
Government/Schools "other purposes" language scares me.  Too vague.  Too costly.

Below is what I wrote before the MAY 2015 ballot issue:
Here is the section of my archived blog from April about Pontiac Schools. 

DESPERATE: ... What will a five year "sinking fund" @2.87 mills/ a little more than $7 Million... do for a FAILING school district?  If money is needed for "construction or repair"... why not QUICKLY sell the 17 properties/and others not listed for sale to generate revenue and stop maintenance fees and repairs?
Enrollment is DROPPING...and Pontiac HS was the state's bottom ranked school.  Can you blame the many suburban households ( Bl. Twp., W. Bl., Sylvan Lake, Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus, Waterford, Orion) that are located in the Pontiac school district for wanting out and reassigned to adjacent school districts?  Best way for that to happen...go VOTE.... quit voting yes and let the district DISSOLVE.   Now is the best time to vote NO.  Say NO on all future millages until the State ends this district for good.  Save the students... send them to better schools.  My opinion.

As for my community, only people living in Bl. Twp. precincts 12 and 29 will vote:  Bloomfield Township  on August 4, 2015.   Please VOTE !!!

VOTERS need to go TO THEIR normal precinct and vote on AUGUST 4, 2015.
Here are 7 other communities in the Pontiac School District and links to each:
Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Sylvan Lake, Lake Angelus, West Bloomfield Township, Waterford Township, Orion Township.

There are currently 430 homes for sale in the Pontiac School District.    Click here to view homes for sale.   The amount each property will PAY in taxes will vary greatly

While NOT having a VOTE, maybe the surrounding school district taxpayers should pay attention... as I believe this school district should go into bankruptcy and be absorbed by surrounding school districts.  Right now, the Pontiac School district avoided bankruptcy by agreeing to operate under a STATE CONSENT AGREEMENT.  The MI State Treasurer provides oversight and monitoring of contracts.  Oakland Schools provide Business and Human Resources Services and the MI Dept. of Education monitors all educational plans.

What do the homeowners want?  They need to express their voting.  Is it to try to save     "a world class school district"  as their own Pontiac School District website describes themselves... or let the state close the district and send the children to other neighboring school districts?

In my opinion, this is NOT a "a world class school district" as it currently exists.
WHAT SCHOOLS ARE OPEN FOR THE 2015-2016 SCHOOL YEAR?The school website has NOT BEEN completely UPDATED for this 2015-2016 school year that begins Aug. 17, 2015.  Some schools have data from 2013 still listed.

Only these schools are listed under the heading "select a school" at the very top of the school website.. but none with current information, so who really knows what buildings are being used.

The address and some information is given for each of the following buildings:
Alcott Elem., WHRC Elem., Herrington Elem, Owen Elem. (sold?), Rogers Elem., Pontiac Middle School, Pontiac H.S. and ITA (formerly Walt Whitman elem).
I learned that there are 17 properties currently FOR SALE...some with buildings, some vacant land.
From Feb. to April, 2015, three companies PURCHASED 12 other PROPERTIES for a total amount of $1,600,000.   See an Oakland Press article from Feb. 2013 about some of these properties.

Was any of that $1,600,000 money used this summer to improve the buildings being used this fall?
That would be nice to know.  How are these building going to be re-purposed? 
  • Pontiac Community Investments, LLC purchased the Franklin and Fairlawn properties for $750,000.
  • Pontiac Surplus, LLC purchased the Le Baron and Owen properties for a total price: $50,000.
  • Pontiac Investment Properties, LLC purchased 4 properties: Crofoot, Perdue, McCaroll and Jefferson for a total price of $500,000  and another 4 properties: Emerson, Longfellow, Washington and Webster for another $300,000.

 TIME FOR CHANGE:  do it at the ballot boxWith falling enrollment in many school districts throughout the state, it is TIME to consolidate the districts.  There are too many administrators/buildings/ buses/ and associated costs.  TIME to use the limited resources to actually EDUCATE our children. Vote NO...    My opinion.

Take a look at the:    Pontiac School BUDGET listed under "quick links"  :
See the costs for:   administration, transportation, building maintenance, etc.

Pontiac School District     

Attend this event to learn more:  
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1    from 10 AM  to  2  PM
Location:  47200 Woodward Ave., Pontiac, MI 48342 @ the Odell Nail's Admin. Building
Sponsors:  lots of businesses from the surrounding communities
Events:  FREE:  food, health screening, parent resources, Book Bag Giveaway, and much more.

  • My Blogs are usually just about Bloomfield Township... but SCHOOL DISTRICTS include many different municipalities.  Please feel free to pass this blog on to others that you know that should be VOTING in the August "stealth" election.  Thank you.


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  2. Here's an OpEd from the Detroit News just prior to the August vote:

    Over the last several years members of the Pontiac School District Board of Education have lost or mismanaged more than 50 Million dollars. To my knowledge, one person has gone to prison. Is there anyone out there who thinks that one person cheated our children out of the whole $50 million? How did this happen? It happened because of backroom, illegal, closed door deals and decisions.

    I know each and every one of the present board members, having gotten to know them while campaigning with and against them. I am confident there is no longer the skullduggery of previous boards. These are hardworking, dedicated people who care about our kids and our community. That being said, until they make some fundamental changes in the way they conduct their business, I cannot and will not vote to give them another cent.

    When I ran for the Board of Education last year, my goal was to make the board more accountable and to function according to the Open Meetings Act and operate in the sunshine. Fellow citizens, “it ain’t happenin”. A Board member said to me, “We’re doing what the Open Meetings Act allows.” I disagree with that statement, but that aside, they are not following the spirit of the Act and that’s exactly why all the shadiness took place before. It’s also why there’s continuing distrust of the board’s actions.

    Do you want my vote? Make these changes in how you conduct your business:
    >When there’s a motion on the floor allow for public comment during the discussion.
    >There were 24,000 kids in the district, now it’s 4500. Do away with two trustee seats.
    > No longer allow members to show up at meeting for five minutes and leave.
    > Stop allowing members to participate and vote over the phone.
    >Stop holding “special meetings” making the public think they are not welcome.
    >Stop having meetings “offsite” with board members when it constitutes a quorum.
    >Start posting agenda notices and meeting minutes in a timely fashion.
    >Make videos and podcasts of meetings available to ALL seven communities.
    >Board members make $81.50 for ANY meeting. Make the compensation $11.50.

    Here is the argument against making any of the above changes, as offered to me by a past President of the Board, “We operate differently than other boards, we have different rules.” NO YOU DON’T. Here’s another example, I was talking on the phone to Board member the other day as he was trying to get into a parking lot, when I heard this: “I am too allowed to park here I’m an elected official.” That’s the attitude of entitlement that got us to where we are today.

    People in EVERY voting precinct in the District tell me they want change. OK folks, here’s your chance. Cut their money off and they will have to change. SAVE THE CHILDREN! VOTE NO!

  3. Here's another refuting a story in the Oakland Press dated 9-12-15
    There is so much misinformation and so many falsehoods in the above named news article that I hardly know where to begin. I suppose the best thing to do is take them one at a time. I will address them in the order which they appeared, not in the order of importance

    The most glaring thing about the story is that the district’s Board did not all the sudden decide to "regroup and not place any millage increase on the November ballot" The fact is they were attempting to break the law, which clearly states that a taxing unit cannot put a proposal on the ballot more than 2 times in a calendar year. November would have been their 3rd failure in 2015. At first when this was pointed out to them, they decided they would go ahead with it regardless. However, when a group of concerned citizens made a request to the County Elections Commission and they in turn pointed out the error of the way, the district reluctantly withdrew the proposal.

    As to all bluster by the Board President and Superintendent about exploring other options, it has already been decided to submit the proposal again in the March 2016 election. This s particularly disturbing in light of the District having spent over $65,000.00 to have the proposal on the August ballot, as well as the cost already incurred for the doomed November election.

    Concerning the sinking fund millage of 2.87 replacing the retired 3.87 millage, one has absolutely nothing to do with other. This is an attempt to mislead the tax payers of the district into thinking they were getting a 1 mill decrease in their taxes.

    Superintendent Williams stated, "We are taking the pulse of the community to see what concerns there are and what we can do better." Well they've taken the pulse twice so far and both times the community has responded by telling them, "enough is enough, learn how to spend the money and assets you already have before you ask for more"

    The Superintendent went on to say, "We're continuing to reduce the deficit." Using the districts own numbers, it's pretty easy to refute this statement. At the time of the state take over the district claimed to be $51.7 million in debt. They claim to have paid the debt down by $12.6 million to a total of $39.1 million. Nobody knows if this "pay down" includes the mismanagement and ultimate one time 3 mill tax levy ($7.8 million) for tax payers of the district to pay for the MESSA insurance mess. Regardless, the district has gone to the State twice for $10 million "loans" each time interest free for 5 years each. Simple addition would suggest that not only is the district not paying off their debt, but are more likely another $7.4 million in debt.

  4. I just came across this blog. I am a longtime resident of Bloomfield Hills. I moved here when I was eight years old. While younger my parents sent me to prep school in Grosse Pointe Farms for K-8, I did attend my neighborhood high school-Andover. After attending college, I returned to Michigan and purchased a condo not too far from my childhood home. I have been a teacher for ten years now, but six of those years have been in the Pontiac School District. It absolutely disheartens me to read that you would want the school district dissolved. I personally see some of the points that you are making from the perspective of someone outside of the district, however as someone who works in the district I do see that there are a few areas of concern. First you state "Can you blame the many suburban households ( Bl. Twp., W. Bl., Sylvan Lake, Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus, Waterford, Orion) that are located in the Pontiac school district for wanting out and reassigned to adjacent school districts?" However if the district dissolves, I honestly do not see these districts being open to accepting children from the Pontiac School District. There would be concerns about the behavioral challenges, the special education services as well as the test scores. Additionally, I do not see this as a viable solution especially in Bloomfield Hills because they are not a school of choice district. What are your thoughts on this??