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Safety, technology and infrastructure improvements highlight Nov. 6 Utica Community Schools Bond Proposal

The Utica Community Schools Board of Education has unanimously (7-0) approved placing a $155 million bond proposal on the November 6 ballot to address safety and security, technology and infrastructure improvements identified through the district’s strategic, long-range facility improvement program.  

“The bond proposal will allow us to continue providing an environment that supports the academic excellence for students that our community expects and deserves,” Board of Education president Gene Klida said. “The bond projects address safety and security and infrastructure priorities that directly impact our classrooms. The projects also provide our teachers the tools they need to drive learning and develop the job skills that businesses need to build our economy.”

Voter approval of the bond proposal has been structured to keep the tax rate at or below the current level. 

The bond proposal will affect each UCS student and every UCS school and school facility.

The ballot proposal states that that the bond proposal will provide for:

1.   making safety and security improvements, including cameras and door-locking systems;

2.   equipping, furnishing, re-equipping and refurnishing school district buildings, facilities, and structures, and acquiring school buses and technology equipment;

3.   constructing additions to and/or remodeling school district buildings; and

4.   improving and developing sites, including playgrounds, athletic fields, facilities, and structures in the school district.

 “Safe and secure schools are a top priority for our community and our district,” Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns said. “The improvements in this bond proposal are a key piece to our collaborative efforts with local law enforcement to continue to keep our schools safe places for students and staff.”

Technology improvements provide students and teachers the resources to support learning, including key areas of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and the integration of skills that ensure success in college and career.

The infrastructure projects also support the district’s long-range improvement programs in key areas of roofing, paving and the replacement of buses. 

Board of Education Treasurer Dr. Robert Ross emphasized that voter approval of the bond proposal has been structured to not increase the current tax rate.

“Through solid fiscal planning, this bond issue has been designed to ensure we can address our facility priorities at or below our current millage level,” Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Ross added that the improvements will allow the district to extend the life of current school buildings and protect the investment the community has made in its facilities.

“Area realtors are clear that the strength of Utica Community Schools protects property values and draws new families and businesses to the communities we serve,” he said.

Dr. Ross noted that by law the bond revenue will be used only for capital improvements and may be not used for operating expenses, such as salaries or utilities.

“It is important that our taxpayers know that all revenue must be used for the purposes that are specified in the bond proposal and the expenditures are independently audited,” he said.