Over the past seven years, the Walled Lake Consolidated School District has completed over 200 projects spread out among the district’s 26 facilities with the aid of the district’s sinking fund.
The sinking fund program began in 2004 with the collection of a 0.5-mill levy, which is to be collected for 10 years and expires in December 2013.
This levy generates approximately $2.3 million a year and allows the district to repair school buildings, construct facilities, and purchase real estate for school sites. However, it cannot be used for technology, equipment, furnishings, buses, or salaries.
“The fund proceeds can only be used for capital improvement projects,” said Bill Chatfield, the district’s director of operations. “Most of the projects we’ve completed over the past seven years would not have been able to be funded due to the reduction of the state School Aid Fund. Our deferred repair program would be significantly less — there would be a lot of deteriorated systems throughout the district if we didn’t have the sinking fund to make repairs.”
“With all the budget cuts to public education, we would not be able to maintain the buildings at the level the community expects without this fund,” said Walled Lake Schools Community Relations and Marketing Director Judy Evola.
The projects completed so far range from sidewalks and parking lots to door and fence replacement to roof work and building control systems. A few of the recent major projects have been replacing the field turf at Walled Lake Northern High School, replacing the pool heating system and roof at Walled Lake Western High School, and adding four new classrooms to Hickory Woods Elementary School.
Most of this work is completed during the summer to limit the disruption to students. However, once in a while, emergency repair work will be done during the school year, such as when a boiler fails or a roof is damaged. Chatfield said the district always makes sure to keep a sinking fund reserve balance for these unforeseen repairs.
According to Chatfield, the district has received “very good feedback” about the sinking fund projects.
“Every school has had some level of work done with sinking fund proceeds,” he said. “It’s a public benefit to them. People have safe parking lots and sidewalks from this fund.”