More than 40 local citizens gathered Monday night at a special Wayland Union Schools’ bond campaign kickoff held for the expressed purpose of firing up the troops in advance of the Aug. 2 election.
Patricia Velie, assistant superintendent for finances and operations, was the ringleader of the event, where she acknowledged that thus far the biggest question coming from the public has been her insistence that passing the $48.5 million bond request will not raise taxes on property owners.
Velie pointed out that homeowners now are paying 8.4 mills each year on the district’s current debt. Approving the proposal Aug. 2 will result in that bond amount remaining as is for the next 25 years.
“It’s a zero mill add,” she said… “An incremental decrease in the millage rate (by turning down the request) would not be that significant at first… I know it’s confusing, but this helps allow for growth.”
She added that the Wayland district has seen growth in taxable value.
The assistant superintendent outlined a “domino effect” stemming from the marquee portion of the bond project — tearing down the nearly 50-year-old swimming pool at the high school to make way for a new one. She said the new pool would result in new lockers rooms for the Fitness Center, a new home for the band program, a move for the choir to a more spacious room, expansion of the wood shop and opening up space for the Computer Aided Design (CAD) program.
“We are looking at this project as not just for an athletic pool, but a community pool for everybody,” she maintained.
Velie said district residents will be able to use the facility and all students can be taught swimming lessons in an area loaded with lakes. Furthermore, this is a chance to restart the lifeguarding program for high school students.
“Every student in Wayland schools will be touched by this bond program,” she insisted.
Joining the party were representatives from architects Tower Pinkster and Triangle Construction, who have been involved in Wayland schools’ building projects in the past.
Supt. Dr. Christina Hinds noted the election will be Aug. 2, but perhaps a better date to remember is June 23, the first day absentee ballots will be available, She explained that many local residents might be out of town in the first week of August, so absentee voting could ensure they vote regardless.
Steve Hoeksema of Tower Pinkster said, “Apathy is the biggest thing we struggle against. The ‘no’ voters will always show up.”
If the bond passes, work will begin immediately in the summer on repairs and renovations at Dorr, Steeby, Baker and Pine Street elementary schools, as well as a new roof at the middle school. Design work for the new pool also would begin this summer and plans are in place to add parking space at the high school near the pool.
Jeff Koon, who has taken on chairmanship of the Citizens’ Yes Committee, exhorted all in attendance to be part of the campaign in getting out the vote, particularly from those in favor.