Frequently Asked Questions

When is the election?

Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

Fill out and return your absentee ballot application to the Secretary of State or City Clerk to vote by mail.

What is the purpose of this proposed bond?

The primary purpose of the bond election is to construct a new elementary school (eliminating the Dickinson West portable classrooms), renovate school facilities, and eliminate unnecessary expenditures for maintenance and energy costs. 

If approved by voters, the bond proposal will also enhance student safety and security, improve student comfort, provide much needed additional classrooms at the High School and Community Center, as well an expanded fitness center for the whole community.

The bond proposal on the May ballot is an outgrowth of the school district’s strategic planning process, and will affect every Hamtramck student.

Why pursue a bond initiative during a pandemic?

Based on all available data and expert opinions, we know the following things:

  1. Our community is growing overall, and specifically in school age children
  2. Many of our facilities are currently at capacity, including 2 schools co-located in one building with temporary portable classrooms.
  3. The proposed improvements are a bare minimum of what is needed for a quality learning environment.
  4. In person schooling will resume at some point, and delaying projects only makes them more expensive to complete in the future.
  5. School districts are currently being encouraged to slash budgets due to decreased funding from the State because of the pandemic.
  6. Michigan was already one of 12 States to not provide any infrastructure money to districts, requiring them to self-finance infrastructure improvements.
Wasn’t this the point of the sinking fund?

The sinking fund was phase I. Through the commitment of Hamtramck voters, HPS was able to use approximately $750,000 per year to address some of the most critical infrastructure needs- primarily sealing the envelopes of existing buildings. This meant new roofs and windows for multiple schools. General funds were also used to supplement these projects where needed. However, due to the scale of needs and the rising cost of construction every year, this amount would never allow us to provide the large-scale improvements proposed in the current bond initiative. Just for example, the cost of the new elementary building construction alone is projected at more than $14,000,000. This one piece of the total project is more than our current general fund balance and could never be accomplished without a bond initiative.

For more information, read this article from the ACLU Michigan: Structural Flaws: How the Costs of Capital Improvements Overburden Michigan School Districts

Is HPS a good steward of public funds?

The auditing firm of Yeo & Yeo have found ZERO material findings in our annual public financial review for 5 years in a row. This puts us in the small minority of districts in the State with such exemplary financial practices.

All construction projects, sinking fund and otherwise, are competitively bid following the state bid threshold guidelines to find the best price for qualified work.

How was the current list of projects determined?

HPS has worked with Partners in Architecture for all our construction planning needs. They are a reputable firm with vast experience in public infrastructure development. The proposed projects are only the most essential and those that align with our strategic plans. 

The bond projects fall into six basic categories:

  1. Construction of a new elementary school to replace the portable classrooms that are currently located at Dickinson West Elementary. 
  2. Renovations at Hamtramck High School to create four (4) new classrooms and construction of a building addition to connect the High School with the Community Center for improved security. 
  3. Mechanical system improvements to provide air conditioning (cooling) to instructional areas at all schools. 
  4. Construction of a building addition onto the Community Center for fitness center with dedicated community entrance separate from daytime school use/access. Additional classrooms will also be created. 
  5. Replacement of exterior windows at multiple school buildings including: Hamtramck High School, Dickinson East, Holbrook and Early Childhood Elementary.
  6. Restroom renovations at multiple school buildings including: Hamtramck High School, Kosciuszko Middle School, Dickinson East, Holbrook and Early Childhood Elementary. 

If approved by voters, the bond proposal will positively impact all current and future generations of Hamtramck students.

How will the bond proposal benefit students and the community?

The bond proposal will benefit students and the community in several ways, including…

  • creating an all new modern elementary school
  • upgrading school facilities and improving learning environments
  • attracting new families to our community
  • enhancing residential property values by having up-to-date school facilities
  • assuring that school facilities are upgraded, renovated, and kept in good repair
  • providing much needed fitness and educational space at the community center 

All bond proposal projects are designed to reflect positively on homeowner property values and the community’s “small town-good schools” reputation.

How much are we seeking to raise and what will it cost the average tax payer?

If voters approve the bond proposal, the current tax rate will increase by 7 mills directly from property taxes and the District will borrow $35,265,000 from a special low interest fund set up by the State to support school districts bridging funding gaps in bond initiatives. 
That means $7 for each $1,000 of taxable value. According to our city assessor’s office, the average home value in Hamtramck is $65,000. That means the average taxable value is $32,500. Therefore, the average homeowner would pay $227.50, or slightly more than $4 per week. Some people will pay less. Some people will pay more.

What’s included in the bond proposal?

If approved by voters on August 4, 2020, the following projects will be completed at each school:

Hamtramck High School

  • Upgrade mechanical system to provide cooling throughout instructional areas
  • Upgrade electrical service
  • Replace exterior windows
  • Remodel restrooms
  • Reduce size of pool locker rooms to allow for (4) new classrooms and (2) smaller remodeled locker rooms
  • Construct secure building addition to connect High School with Community Center
  • New furnishings for (4) new classrooms

Kosciuszko Middle School 

  • Upgrade mechanical system to provide cooling throughout instructional areas
  • Upgrade electrical service
  • Remodel restrooms

New Dickinson West Elementary School 

  • Demolish portable classrooms (all 10 which currently serve as the elementary building with the exception of a few rooms that are shared in the adjacent Kosciuszko Middle School)
  • Construct New Dickinson West Elementary School (approximately 37,000 SF – this building will be constructed to attach to the existing Kosciuszko Middle School).
  • New furnishings 
  • New instructional technology
  • Minor site improvements

Dickinson East Elementary School

  • Upgrade mechanical system to provide cooling throughout instructional areas
  • Upgrade electrical service
  • Replace exterior windows
  • Remodel restrooms

Holbrook Elementary School

  • Upgrade mechanical system to provide cooling throughout instructional areas
  • Upgrade electrical service
  • Replace exterior windows
  • Remodel restrooms

Early Childhood Elementary

  • Upgrade mechanical system to provide cooling throughout instructional areas
  • Upgrade electrical service
  • Replace exterior windows
  • Remodel restrooms

Tau Beta School

  • Demolish existing house adjacent East of school to prepare for dedicated early education green space without crossing the street. 

Community Center

  • Construct fitness center and classroom addition 
  • Demolish and reconfigure main entry ramp and retaining walls
  • Site restoration and landscaping
  • Modern fitness room equipment
What will happen if voters do not approve the bond proposal?

The proposed bond projects cannot be addressed because the general fund cannot support them.

What is the schedule for bond proposal projects?

Planning for the new projects will begin immediately after August 4th and all projects are required by the State to be completed within a three (3) year period.

Will all bond proposal revenue stay in the Hamtramck School District?

Yes.  All revenue from the bond proposal will stay in the Hamtramck School District.  None of the revenue will go to Lansing or to any other school district or political entity.  The bond funds can only be used for bond proposal projects and cannot be used for salaries.

If the bond proposal is approved by voters, will property values be affected?

Real estate values tend to be higher in communities with school districts that offer a quality education program and have up-to-date school facilities.  Property values tend to be lower in communities that do not offer an adequate curriculum or that have schools that are out-of-date and poorly maintained.  Remodeling and upgrading school buildings and facilities will protect the community’s investment in the school district.  All bond proposal projects are designed to reflect positively on homeowner property values and the community’s enviable “small, tight-knit-” reputation.

What are the student enrollment projections for the next five years?

According to the Middle Cities Annual Report, HPS enrollment has grown consistently over the last 5 years and is projected to grow more than 15% over the next five years.

What is a bond proposal?

A bond is a State-approved funding process that specifies a set scope of projects.  When voters approve a bond, the money specified in the bond proposal is borrowed and the school district makes payments over a period of years, much like a homeowner pays a mortgage.  Bonds are usually issued for 20-30 years.  If voters approve the August 4th Bond proposal, the Hamtramck School District’s bonds will be issued for 30 years.

Bonds can only be used for long term assets:
  • Constructing new school buildings
  • Constructing additions to existing school buildings
  • Remodeling existing school buildings
  • Energy conservation improvements
  • Land purchases
  • Site development and improvements
  • Athletic and physical education facility development and improvements
  • Playground development and improvements
  • Refunding debt (if new present value savings can be demonstrated)
  • Direct bond program costs such as professional fees, election fees, issuance costs, qualification fees, insurance fees, final audit costs
  • School bus purchases
  • Loose furnishings and equipment purchasing
  • Technology purchases limited to hardware and communication devices that transmit, receive or compute information for pupil instructional purposes only. The initial purchase of operating system and customized application software is allowed if purchased with the initial hardware.
Bonds cannot be used for:
  • Salaries, supplies, service contracts, lease payments, installment contracts
  • Repairs, maintenance, or maintenance agreements
  • Purchasing automobiles, trucks, or vans
  • Portable classrooms purchased for temporary use
  • Uniforms
  • Textbooks
  • Upgrades to an existing computer operating system or application software
  • Computer training, computer consulting, or computer maintenance contracts.
Can any of the bond proposal funds be used for employee salaries or operating expenses?

No.  Bond proposal funds cannot be used for staff wages, salaries, or operational costs.  They also cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs or other operating expenses.  Bond proposal funds must be used only for purposes specified in the ballot language, and, as required by State law, they must be audited.

Who can vote in this bond proposal election?

Residents of the Hamtramck School District who will be 18 years of age or older on Election Day, and are registered to vote.

Where can I get information about voting (such as how to register, where to vote, and absentee voting?

Go to the Michigan Voter Information website (Michigan.gov/sos) or call the Clerk’s Office where you reside.

Do I need to update my voter registration?

You need to update your voter registration if you have changed your name or address since the last time you voted.  You can do this at any Secretary of State Office or at the Clerk’s Office where you reside.

Get more information about the bond election and answers to your questions…