Detroit voters OK $500 million school bond

Nov. 4, 2009
Money will pay to build 8 and renovate 10 schools

Voters in Detroit have approved a $500.5 million bond for the city's school system to build, renovate, demolish and update buildings. Detroiters will get a break on the interest rate -- $246 million will be interest-free under the federal stimulus program's Qualified School Construction Bonds program. The interest rate on the remaining $254 million will be cut by 35 percent under the Build America Bonds program. The funds will be used to build eight schools and renovate 10, demolish more than two dozen others and upgrade technology and security districtwide.

OCTOBER 2009...From The Detroit Free Press: In order to build up Detroit's public schools, a lot will have to be torn down, says Robert Bobb, the district's emergency financial manager. That process could begin with Proposal S, the $500.5-million school construction bond measure that is to appear on the ballot Nov. 3. The measure would provide funding to build eight schools, renovate 10 and demolish 29 vacant ones. Schools district-wide would get security and technology upgrades.

Earlier from The Detroit News: The Detroit School Board has decided in an 8-1 vote that it will not support the district's proposed $500 million bond proposal. Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has proposed the bond plan to pay for renovation of eight schools and construction of eight others, but board members expressed concerns over poor management of a 1994 $1.5 billion bond and uncertainty surrounding future leadership of the district. Bobb has not said whether he will stay with the district past his one-year contract.

AUGUST 2009...from The Detroit Free Press: Detroit school district officials have unveiled the 18 schools that would be rebuilt or renovated as part of the $500.5-million bond proposal set to go to voters in November. District officials say the work must be completed within 36 months to take advantage of federal stimulus programs.

Earlier...from The Detroit Free Press: Detroit Public Schools has received the green light to put a $500.5-million bond initiative on the November ballot to build schools, improve older ones and possibly close 60 others. It will be a better deal than a traditional bond issue because the measure will be tied to federal stimulus programs. Two stimulus programs that would subsidize the bond -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Qualified School Bond Construction program -- will allow the district to sell a total of $246 million in bonds in 2010 and 2011 on an interest-free basis through the allocation of tax credits. The Building America bond program will reimburse the district 35 percent of the interest on $254 million.

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