brendan-walshIn a cautionary tale for Grosse Pointe Public Schools, a massive $222 million bond proposal failed in Farmington (MI) Public Schools tonight by a comfortable yet unofficial 54% to 46% margin.

Don’t be miseld by the $222 million. $59 million of that was to have funded security and technology upgrades, including a “one to one” (computing devices to students) program. These and other details are accessible here.

Farmington has many similar characteristics to Grosse Pointe, a large suburban district with a large Hold Harmless millage rate and comparatively low Bond and Sinking Fund millage rates.

Farmington has one of the state’s larger Hold Harmless millage rates, 10.821 mills compared to Grosse Pointe’s 7.3295. Interestingly the district’s communication materials made no mention of their Hold Harmless millage, instead focusing on the increased debt millage rate from the current 2.56 mills to a proposed 4.0 mills.

Clearly that strategy did not work.

For a comparison on Grosse Pointe’s current tax policy, please review my earlier posts on the topic here and here. For further comparison, Farmington’s taxable value per pupil is 48% lower than Grosse Pointe’s thus making their millage financial value lower than Grosse Pointe’s (meaning they have to levy more mills to derive the tax yield as Grosse Pointe.)

The Farmington’s failed bond proposal’s security and technology spend per pupil ($5,192) was much higher than those in Ann Arbor ($2,916), Fraser ($1,890), Livonia ($1,912), and Chippewa Valley ($1,959) – all of which passed.

Grosse Pointe’s proposed $48 million for technology and security for 8,416 students is nearly 10% higher than Farmington’s, at $5,703 per pupil.

The results from Farmington and other area districts should be sending a clear message to the Grosse Pointe Board of Education and administration that seeking a large increase on an already burdened tax base is likely to be met with defeat and, worse, a loss of time, money and credibility.