Ballot to include $20.1 million bond for building upgrades

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE – With the district’s finances seemingly stabilized after challenging years that included the shuttering of three buildings, Southgate Community Schools officials hope voters will approve a $20 million bond for basic upgrades to six school buildings, each more than a half century old.

Supt. Leslie Hainrihar said the board earlier this month approved placement of a bond question on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Voters will be asked to approve a 25-year bond in the amount of $20.1 million to address infrastructure safety and security issues.

Hainrihar said the district had refinanced old bonds at a savings and that the bond proposal would not result in any tax increase to homeowners.
“There’s no new millage levy so there’s no new cost to homeowners,” Hainrihar said.

School officials approved the bond issue during the Aug. 4 board of education meeting. Last spring the panel commissioned an assessment of four elementary schools, Davidson Middle School and Anderson High School, the most recent building of the six was constructed in 1967. Most, Hainrihar said, were more than 60 years old.

Primary areas of concern in what the panel called “aging and inefficient” buildings included exterior doors, lighting, parking lots, heating and cooling systems and drainage issues.

Most of the bond – about $15 million – will be earmarked for school building improvements, including $6.2 million for Anderson. The facility was built in 1960, and in need of roof repairs, flooring, door work, electrical upgrades and maintenance of athletic fields and bleachers.

Nearly $5 million will address a variety of concerns at the district’s support buildings on Asher and Gerisch.

Hainrihar said the district has stabilized somewhat since the recent closing of three buildings, Gerisch Middle School and Chormann and North Pointe elementary schools.

Budget projections anticipate a resolution next year to a deficit that had reached nearly $5 million before the district embarked on a state-approved five-year debt elimination plan that will conclude earlier than expected.

(James Mitchell can be reached at