JACKSON COUNTY, MI – Voters in the Hanover-Horton School District will decide whether to approve a sinking fund allowing the district to purchase and replace and upgrade outdated technology while updating technological infrastructure.
The district is asking voters to approve the new sinking fund millage in the Aug. 3 primary election. It would replace the current sinking fund that has been in place since 2007 and expires at the end of 2021. The sinking fund would levy 1 mill – or $1 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation – for five years, but will not increase current tax rates, Superintendent John Denney said.
If passed, the estimated revenue Hanover-Horton will collect in 2022 is approximately $295,000.
A change in state law a few years ago allows school districts to use sinking funds to purchase technology, Denney said, which is why a new proposal is before voters, rather than a renewal of the expiring sinking fund.
Because the district already has put a significant amount of funding into purchasing technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, Denney said the sinking funds would go toward replacing items like Chromebooks, desktop computers, projectors and smart boards as they go out of service.
When the district passed its technology bond in 2017, it collected around $250,000 to upgrade things like its public address system, phone system, switches and routes and other infrastructure like security cameras.
“Educational technology only works for so long, and having the ability of utilizing the sinking fund money for that allows us to take our general fund revenues and attach those to other items,” Denney said. “It allows us to stretch the money we get further while protecting the investments that we have.
The sinking fund would allow Hanover-Horton to not only replace outdated technology but also the “network backbone itself.”
All those devices have a certain shelf life that you’ve got to replace and they’re not cheap,” he said.
While the sinking fund proposal language allows for the “purchase of real estate for sites for, and the construction or repair of, school buildings” and for school security improvements, Denney said the district doesn’t have plans to “expand our footprint.”
If Hanover-Horton doesn’t include the language in the proposal, however, it wouldn’t be able to use the sinking fund for a list of ongoing repairs and upgrades to bathrooms and replacements of counters.
In recent years, the district has used the sinking fund to construct new entryways at the elementary and middle schools and a new weight room off of the back of the high school gym.
“If we needed to build on a classroom or two or anything along those lines, if we don’t include the language, we can’t utilize the fund for it,” Denney said. “I don’t anticipate doing any expansion to the buildings.”
With the lowest millage rate of any school district in the county, Denney said Hanover-Horton continues “try to do our best to spend it wisely.”
“Being able to have that revenue on a regular basis that’s got to go into the buildings and the infrastructure and the grounds and all that stuff has really allowed us to maintain high quality facilities while making the best use of the taxpayers money,” Denney said.