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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Reasons to vote "no" on the $20 million "technology bond" at Clarkston Schools

I have never voted against a school millage in the past, but I will be voting no on this one.  There are so many reasons why this bond is wrong at this time and how it is set up.  They include:

- ill timed (with the economy as it is, the unemployment, the high percentage of families in the district on subsidized meals, and the extra $35,000 it will cost to have the 'stealth' one topic election in May when nothing else is on the ballot and most won't come out to vote).

- no plan for the "technology" (the presentation by the district on what they are going to do is vague at best and changes based on their audience - they have obviously not "done their homework")

- no proof their technology application will do ANYTHING positive for student's learning, test scores, etc.

- no reports from the test groups that had wireless devices this year on the success or failure of the program

- no reports from the district on the number of damaged/broken devices

- no reports about the fact that to utilize three times the number of wireless antennas in the schools if they use iPads vs. PCs resulting in three times the microwave exposure

- no safety reports or warnings from administration on the health impact of having wireless devices in the schools on students, pregnant women, men wishing to father children, people highly sensitive to pulsed microwaves, or everyone else for that matter


  1. Can you please clarify in your blog that this is not just a "$20 million tech bond". Isn't half the moneys ($10M) slated to repair/replace leaky roofs, cracked & unsafe sidewalks, parking lots, and athletic surfaces, old bathroom fixtures and broken furniture, broken instruments etc; ? I'm trying to get both sides of the story so I can make an informed decision on May 8. But I find that you are slanting your "story" in the same way you're accusing others of doing.

  2. March 24th Anonymous,

    You are right. It is NOT a $20 million tech bond... 57% of the proposed expenditures ARE for technology, or $11,372,467 ($10,464,750 plus 57% of the admin fees). The remaining 43% is spread across "site development" (19%), "building construction" (18%), "security" (3%), "furnishings and equipment" (2%),and "instruments" (2%).

    The district is supposed to use their per pupil operating funds (not bond funds) to repair and maintain district assets. The bond is like a second mortgage for a school... Let me give you an example: It's just like in your own home - would you take out a second mortgage to caulk the exterior of your house, paint your house, repair window screens, put in carpeting, buy a TV, security system, microwave, DVD player, or computer, replace a broken garage door, window drapes or blinds, a counter top, or chipped sinks? A proper use of a second mortgage in your home would be capital improvements like an addition, an enclosed porch, a swimming pool, a new driveway with landscaping... Many of the items on the district's list of projects are truly M/A items and not capital improvements.

    Anything purchased under the bond must have an effective life of at least as long as it takes to pay for it. Do you really think that iPods and iPads will live six years in childrens' hands?

    I do not believe that the district sets aside enough funds from the operating funds for maintenance. I think that a good portion of the non-technology items are just maintenance items in sheep's clothing ("enhancement", "replacement", "renovation", etc.). In fact, until someone pointed that requirement out to administration, those same items had descriptions of "maintenance".

    It all reminds me of the "Wizard of Oz" who said, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

    Almost all of the first $10 million installment will be used on technology.

    So, YES, in general, I would consider it a tech bond. A tech bond that has a bunch of much smaller purchases planned for it in the second and third payout and many of them should not be purchased on a bond.