Asst. Supt. explains casino funds in relation to bond

To the editor:

Patricia Velie

During the last successful bond campaign (to add the middle school wing, replace the tennis courts, and work on all other buildings = $1.925m zero add to the current 8.4 mills=no change in mills collected to meet debt payments) I met a taxpayer over by Hickory Drive and our conversation led me to one clear action step for my work here at Wayland and that was transparency. That bond successfully completed all work as presented to the public.

Casino funds are just as transparent and viewable on the waylandunion.org webpage. At the close of every year, the district puts forth what the funds were used for. Since 2012, the district has averaged $1.6m a year in Casino Revenue Sharing In Lieu of Taxes.

That $1.6m is split 3 ways: 50% capital outlay, 25% instructional, and 25% community use.

The 50% capital outlay is equal to roughly $800k. A payment on a $48.5m bond issue is roughly (given interest rates) $200k per month or $2.4m per year. Again the total Casino funds received average $1.6m, but only $800k is used for capital outlay.

That $800k used for capital outlay takes care of smaller, but very necessary projects. This past year the HS gym floor was replaced (original from 1974) = $200k. Additional work included the asbestos abatement and removal of the old addition on the Pine Street gym. More work being completed is the painting of the Pine Street gym exterior. New siding on the Central Receiving building (original siding in a very viewable part of town). Vehicle replacement comes from this money for the maintenance department. WUS runs 7 maintenance vehicles and tries to replace them every 10 years (one at a time to fit the capital outlay funds budget).

As you can see real projects take place with these funds, projects that would just be put off till the next bond. This means that any bond the school goes out for is for real need projects, not wants, but needs.

The district needs a new pool – the current pool is 48 years old. We need a place for our community to gather, learn, exercise, and play. Building a new pool makes space for band and orchestra to move into a much needed larger space for the numbers and the safety elements. Choir needs a larger space for numbers and safety. We need to grow curriculum offerings through HS robotics, STEAM, and automation for our students entering these careers. All of these areas were built in 1974 and very well suited WUS’ needs, but we have grown and those spaces need attention to address the larger student numbers and safety elements that affect staff and students. Then we get to the MS, which needs a new roof and windows (original to the building) equal to almost $7m, and last but not least always work to be done at the elementary. Hundreds of students and staff every day makes for spaces that are much used even with WUS’ annual capital outlay work (such as 2022 summer work completing new paint and carpet in the HS guidance office paid for with Casino funds).

I encourage you to reach out with further questions or concerns. Or visit WUS’ webpage: waylandunion.org for lots of great information and transparency.

— Patricia Velie, assistant superintendent for finances and operations., Wayland Union Schools


  • Here we go. I would like to hear Ms. Velies reasoning as to why “we need a new pool”. Since when did a pool become a necessary tool for teaching good ol’ reading writing and arithmatic which the last time I checked was the principle purpose of public schools. Not football, not basketball, not wrestling, not tennis or any of the other nonessential activities, including a new pool, that are currently tied to our public education.
    In my opinion a pool is a luxury to those who can afford it. There is no pool in our back yard because I can’t afford one. One of the reasons I can’t afford one is because our schools are constantly asking for more taxpayers dollars. Well your taxes won’t increase. You are right, but they won’t decrease either. I don’t know if you have noticed but times are hard, people are struggling, crime is on the rise and charitable resources are being utilized to the limits and yet Wayland needs a new pool. Sounds like a pretty arrogant statement when the retired couple across the street struggles to feed themselves or the young couple down the street has to work two jobs to save for their dream house in which to raise their children but may never realize this dream because Wayland NEEDS a new pool! If they do realize their dream house how haard will they need to work to pay the taxes, because Wayland NEEDS a new pool, or a new track or a new baseball field, ect, ect, ect.
    Do you catch my drift? I for one will NEVER deny our children what they need for a great education and a bright future but I think, no I know, our public schools have lost focus on what the main reasons for their existence really is. Readin, Writing and Arithmatic. When these areas are met and there is money left in the bank (without additional millage) then we can talk about the fun things.
    Just saying

    • Ol’ farm boy I couldn’t help but notice you left out science in your old school of thought or how about government and civics, these are also important lessons in the classroom. Just saying.

    • Did you graduate from Wayland Union high school since the 70s? If so you’ve benefited from a state of the art and functional pool. Our kids today deserve the same. They are no longer able to take swimming lessons or have swim instruction the part of their physical education units due to the limitations and unreliability of the pool heating system. if a major part breaks, it will not be able to be replaced meaning the school would soon have a derelict and abandoned pool and no space to allow their swim team to practice. That is not a way to a 21st-century educational experience. Our student athletes in the swim programs go on to swim at the University level and to compete across the state. Not to mention that this bond issue is not just about a pool. It about expanded and modernized orchestra , choir, and band spaces. We know music education is key to developing brains and in addition to being important in its own right, helps students become more focused and critical thinkers as they learn those reading writing and arithmetic skills you find so important. The bond issue will also provide funds to modernize an update the auto shop and wood chops bases to allow students to have better airflow and filtration, among other improvements. It is important that our Wayland students be able to learn not just for reading writing and arithmetic but also avail themselves of the industrial technology courses that employers in this area find key.
      The retired couple across the street wants to able to sell their home for a good price when it is time. Families moving into the area are looking for strong schools that offer a variety of programs and have updated facilities. we want them to choose Wayland over Thornapple Kellogg or Caledonia etc. as such, our school facilities should be competitive not just for our students, who are worth it, but the overall stability of the community and housing values!

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