EPS bond proposal passes

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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EDWARDSBURG — Students and staff at Edwardsburg Public Schools have cause to celebrate Tuesday, after the zero-mill increase projected to garner $24.4 million for the district over the course of 21 years passed by a margin.

Residents in Cass County voted on the millage. According to unofficial ballot results from Electionreporting.com, with five out of five precincts reporting, there were 949 voters who supported the millage and 678 who voted no. The millage passed by 271 votes.

The bond will allow the district to sell bonds and generate approximately $24.4 million with a zero-mill net increase over the current tax rate of 2.85 mills. As the name suggests, the 21-year bond would not raise taxes.

The last bond proposals brought to the Edwardsburg Schools district voters were a pair of failed elections in August and November of 2022. Prior to this year, the last successful bond proposal was approved by voters in September of 2001.

The safety of children in district buildings and classrooms is a key component of the bond. Secure vestibules, office renovations and campus traffic pattern and circulation upgrades were among the proposed measures to ensure safety. Some of the other projects included in the proposal are as follows:

  • Primary School – Improve safety and security with a secure entry vestibule, a new parent traffic pattern, and fire alarm system upgrades.
  • Eagle Lake Elementary – Add secure entry vestibule, replace aging classroom finishes such as flooring, update fire alarm systems, and renovate restrooms.
  • Intermediate School – Renovate existing entry and front office to improve safety and security, upgrade mechanical and electrical systems, including fire alarm systems, and reconfigure parent traffic patterns.
  • New Learning Center – Renovate former church to create space for additional education needs.
  • Middle School – Provide secure vestibule with direct access to secure office area, remodel of existing main entry, replace interior doors, some roofing replacements, improve ventilation, and upgrade mechanical and electrical systems, including the fire alarm system.
  • High School – Prioritize safety and security with the addition of a secure vestibule and office area, remodel cafeteria, substantial roofing replacements, improve ventilation, and upgrade mechanical and electrical systems, including the fire alarm system.

Approval at this election authorizes the district to sell bonds up to the amount of $24.40 million over the next few years. Timing of the sale of bonds is monitored and suggested by the district’s financial manager, PFM Financial Advisors. With the proposal passing with the election, the first series would be sold in August of 2024 and the second is anticipated to be sold in August of 2027.  

This approach is an opportunity to save in interest costs, and it also staggers cash flow for the project, so it is received when needed for construction to align with the potential staggered start and completion dates of the proposed projects. This strategy also allows the district to keep the millage impact to a 0-mill increase over the current levy of 2.85 mills.

This is a developing story. Leaderpub.com will be updated as more information becomes available.