Better technology in schools is always welcome, but that's not all Grosse Pointe is asking for. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Grosse Pointe Schools is overreaching in asking residents to approve a $50 million bond issue for technology improvements and other upgrades. Passage would lead to a significant tax hike for equipment that likely would be outdated before itís paid for.
If passed in the Feb. 25 election, the bond would raise taxes in the first year by 2.28 mills, with the tax rate varying in the following years of the 10-year issue.
Opponents are raising legitimate concerns.
Cindy Pangborn, a board trustee who voted against putting the bond issue on the ballot, said the proposal and will more than double the districtís current debt of $48 million.
Pangborn argues that technological improvements are only about 20 percent of the total bond costs and questions the need for many of the other equipment and school decorating purchases.
Schools do need to stay up on technology. But they also need to be careful not to run up excessive debt.
The buildings are old and should be updated for technology. The district should stick to that mission and not add on nonessential spending.
Voters have turned down smaller bond requests, and yet the board is returning to voters with an even larger ask.
That the bond is on the February ballot, when voter turnout is traditionally quite low, is also a concern. Such a large tax hike should be presented to voters on the fall ballot, to assure the broadest community input.
Superintendent Thomas Harwood notes that the district, thanks to a contract with all of its bargaining groups, will not only have a balanced budget this year but revenue is expected to exceed expenditures, allowing the board to put $2 million in its fund equity.
The district should be applauded for its fiscal responsibility. But that doesnít change the fact that this bond request is simply too large and covers too many things beyond the stated purpose of a technology upgrade.
Voters should ask the school board to restructure this proposal into a smaller, more targeted measure for the fall ballot.