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UPDATE: Grosse Pointe Voters Crush $50.2 Million School Technology Bond

Vote "more one-sided" than district officials expected.

Opponents to a bond issue before Grosse Pointe Public Schools Tuesday, Feb. 25, say the district is asking for too much. School officials say it's necessary to improve students' education. (Patch file photo)
Opponents to a bond issue before Grosse Pointe Public Schools Tuesday, Feb. 25, say the district is asking for too much. School officials say it's necessary to improve students' education. (Patch file photo)

Updated:

Grosse Pointe Public Schools voters on Tuesday spoke loudly in turning down a contentious technology bond issue proposal that would have raised district taxes by 23 percent.

Seventy percent of those voting said “no,” to the $50.2 million bond issue proposal, a crushing defeat for the GP Tech Yes advocacy group, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“It certainly came as a shock to me,” Bob Haran, the group’s treasurer said of the 10-year measure. “Grosse Pointe has traditionally supported the schools at the polls.

Grosse Pointe school board president Joan Dindoffer said the vote – 8,486 for and 3,593 against – was “certainly more one-sided than I expected.”

Our earlier report:

Grosse Pointe Public Schools voters will decide Tuesday a controversial 10-year $50.2 million bond issue to buy new computers and pay for other technology upgrades.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

School officials say they need the money  to replace outdated equipment to improve educational opportunities for the district’s 8,300 students, but critics argue the price tag is to steep, the Detroit Free Press reports.

A 1:1 model equipping each student in grades 3-12 with a personal computing device is included in the plan. Students would be allowed to take their devices home.

“We want to get more devices in kids’ hands,” said Chris Fenton, deputy superintendent for business affairs. “We’re getting away from textbooks and going more towards computers.”

The bond issue proceeds would also be used to replace or add generators, improve libraries and media center, upgrade phone systems, add security cameras and doors to increase school safety, install a private fiber-optic network and put new computers in classrooms and labs. About 85 percent of the district’s desktop and wireless laptop computers are more than 7 years old, Fenton told the newspaper.

If approved, district property taxpayers would see a tax increase of 2.28 mills in the first year. The estimated annual impact is:

  • The owner of a $70,000 home ($35,000 taxable value) would pay an additional $79.94 in taxes per year.
  • The owner of a $100,000 home ($50,000 taxable value) would pay an additional $114.20 per year.
  • The owner of a $200,000 home ($100,000 taxable value) would pay an additional $228.39 per year.
  • The owner of a $300,000 home ($150,000 taxable value) would pay an additional $342.59 per year.

Taxpayer Jenny Greenwell, 60, said she doesn’t think the district has made its case to voters.

“I don’t see where Grosse Pointe has connected the dots between spending this money and enhancing education outcomes,” she said.

Additional Resources

>>> View the ballot.

>>> Read the district’s FAQ.

>>> Read opposing viewpoints from Residents for Responsible Spending.

>>> Find your polling place.
Allison Baker February 24, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Beth Dalbey did you confirm that Jenny Greenwell is actually a tax payer in Grosse Pointe? On an earlier Facebook thread she confirmed to the GP Tech Yes group that she will not vote in this election since she actually lives and votes in Bloomfield Hills and she pays no Non-Homestead tax in Grosse Pointe. You might want to review a previous article found on the Bloomfield Hills patch about the person you choose to quote in this article. http://bloomfield-mi.patch.com/groups/charles-gabas-blog/p/bp--an-open-letter-to-jenny-greenwell
jeffjay February 24, 2014 at 05:58 PM
The plan would've been great 10 years ago. It's outdated and foolish now. I don't mind the tax hike as much as I abhor the antiquated vision. The world has moved to the Cloud, but GP wants to run their own servers and software with backup generators, etc. The hardware and manpower requirements are silly. We need a new proposal with a fresh vision.
Chris K February 25, 2014 at 12:49 AM
Ho hum. EVERY millage over and above the generous taxes we pay are CRITICAL to the kids. One capital bond, a sinking fund and a renewal of a sinking and STILL not enough money for the KIDS!. Technology abounded when these three taxes were passed or renewed and still no tech in the Grosse Pointe schools? What is wrong with the management of the school system and the school board that they did NOTHING wwith the ADDITIONAL dollars they had to spend to address technology. Seems to me that before we hand the district more money to spend we figure out what they did with all the money they had to spend and how it is that they completely took their eye off the ball (to hear the Yes group describe the state of tech) before we hand them more money. GO back to the drawing board on this one.
Gloria February 25, 2014 at 06:57 AM
Tech Bond is too much In our previous tech bond editorial, we understood the bond to be all or nothing - either vote the tech bond in or vote it out, and that’ll be the end of it. So we figured no tech bond at all was much worse than an imperfect one. However, in light of the recent board meetings and community opposition, it is understood that the bond, if voted down, could be up for revision. And revision, editing and clarity is exactly what it needs. We’re pro-tech bond, just not this tech bond. One item included in the bond is armed doors, a feature that seems handy in light of recent school shootings. But this fancy feature will most likely do nothing to defend us against danger if, say, a window is open next to the door. So what about armored windows? That is just one not-thought-through item included in the bond, which is why it could be valuable to vote this down and allow its creators to revise the bond to eliminate the wants and keep the needs - think it through. There's not a student in Grosse Pointe that hasn't had trouble using one of the ancient computers. This is a need. Armored doors are a want. Also, we’re living in a time when there’s a new device out every si months, making it impossible and expensive to be caught up with the hippest new item. Sure, tangible textbooks go out of date, but technology goes out of date much faster. The bond needs revision to account for these swift technological updates and how the district would handle them. Common Core offers paper testing to schools if computers aren't updated. We've got time. There's too much money at stake to make a hasty decision - focus on the necessities and justify everything else included. Voting for this bond should make Grosse Pointers think of the effects of new technology on students? And it may seem old-fashioned, but is all this technology (like the iPads) really necessary and good for students? It may be too soon in children's lives to start this. These changes should be more natural and occur with shifting of time, with the money shelled out over the years in increase in increments perhaps - not with a large, all-at-once bond. Saying we’re against this tech bond doesn't mean we don't want what's best for students. Those campaigning for the tech bond should not be using this argument to guilt-trip voters. Like we said before: We’re for a tech bond, just not this tech bond. Grosse Pointe North's North Pointe Newspaper Editorial Board says "NO WAY" to current Tech Bond!
Pat February 25, 2014 at 04:08 PM
Too many Grosse Pointe residents are snowbirds and are either not present to vote or may not have requested absentee ballots in time. This vote should have been tabled to next fall!
Kathy Darrow February 25, 2014 at 06:14 PM
Allison Baker, I do not comprehend why you have such an issue with Jennifer Greenwell voicing an opinion about this bond. Do you have an equal abhorrence to Mr. Abud from Shelby Twp. voicing his? Does the GP Tech Yes group still believe that I am not a resident? The bottom line is that a NO vote is not a vote against technology or the children or education. In the comments section of the article in today's Detroit News, a gentleman wrote, "I am very familiar with wifi in old buildings and it works quite well. certainly not as bad as you make it sound. In any case, fiber is overkill. Why would anyone need more than gigabit speeds in a school? Proper network design is what is needed, not fancy networking that even large corporations don't use. Were any studies commissioned? Who decided this was what they had to have?" Nevertheless, the cost in the proposal as Technology Infrastructure Improvements = $16,064,000.00. Not $50.3 million. This bond is excessive! It's not too late to vote NO!
Kathy Darrow February 25, 2014 at 07:07 PM
"A 1:1 model equipping each student in grades 3-12 with a personal computing device is included in the plan. Students would be allowed to take their devices home." The ballot language does not reference a 1:1 plan. The draft proposal doesn't mention a 1:1 plan once. The desktops, laptops, and devices are included in the cost ($17 million), at a ratio of 1:23, but there is no indication as to their intended use. The estimated cost of the tech upgrades in the proposal comes to $16,064,000.00. Many knowledgeable individuals maintain that even that figure is too high. Other districts have upgraded for much less, and not with what the proponents deride as "Band-Aid" fixes. We should too. Vote NO!
Bob Carr February 26, 2014 at 08:24 AM
The School Board was right: this was a critical vote for the kids. The kids got to see democracy in action and how an informed citizenship were able to defeat bad governance at the polls. $4500 per student or about $100K per classroom was just bad planning. Even though the kids aren't usually paying for their own cellphones and tablets, they know that they don't cost that much. Usually buying in volume gets a discount... but not in this case. This was not a "Tech Bond" but simply "Tech Bondage." A cursory look at the top performing schools in the world (OECD PISA study just came out) reveals that money is not the secret to success. In most cases the world's best schools are at technology levels well below those of Grosse Pointe. If excellence rather than some sort of technology legacy is what GPPSS seeks, then it is this sort of fundamental benchmarking that GPPSS needs to perform. This proposal was so spectacularly poorly thought through and so lopsided in its defeat at the polls, that it may be the School Board that most needs a "technology upgrade."
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods February 26, 2014 at 09:44 AM
So much for the schools board's obscene extravagant plan. When will these free-spending folks ever come down to earth? Kids need Tech education. The GPSS already has the Cadillac of school systems. Now they want the Rolls-Royce? Come back with a more well thought-plan, you dolts.
Marlene Pierce February 26, 2014 at 03:43 PM
Just a thought, but it seems to me that anyone who services the schools for internet connections stands to make quite a bit. Why not ask Comcast, Wow, and AT&T to throw together a proposal for services for free instead of PAYING a heavy spending consulting firm?
Kelly March 02, 2014 at 06:52 AM
Why is this the lead story for four days in a row? Patch please either hire an editor for this edition or cancel it. This is the first local article in months. I'd love to see it up and running again but right now it is a joke.
Gloria March 02, 2014 at 07:50 AM
Kelly, you are right. The Patch has not been a news feed that it was in the past! There has not been an update... So stop calling it that when no additional information has been posted! Reporters at the Patch need to be real reporters for the community. I do not go here to get national news. Why do you persist in featuring it over local content? You can do better!
Ahmed Ismail March 02, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Thank you, Gloria and Kelly! I keep getting this story popped up in my email every day with the word, "Update" in the headlines, and the only updates are comments by those of us wondering why The Patch management keep calling it an update. Perhaps a little effort analyzing why the vote came out the way if did would be in order for your editor??
Gloria March 02, 2014 at 06:35 PM
Hey - what a concept... investigative reporting... ... How about it Patch folks?
Gloria March 03, 2014 at 07:26 AM
Hello... Anyone out from the Patch who cares to respond?
Ralph March 03, 2014 at 08:59 AM
The Patch has become as worthless as the Grosse Pointe News for real news in the Pointes. "Investigative reporting"? No one understands the concept and is afraid of offending someone. I've been trying to raise awareness about the real story that GP got rid of their K9 program for months and no one will touch it!
Kelly March 03, 2014 at 10:27 AM
Ralph you're right. I'd like to know more about it - is it GP city?
Ralph March 03, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Yes, GP City. Raleigh died in November and so did the k9 program. Any other law enforcement agency with such a program would have replaced the dog immediately ... but not GPC! It's been one excuse after another mostly about budget issues even though there are people lined up to donate to maintain the program. What is the real reason? Where is the outrage? Where is the Grosse Pointe Patch or the GP News? MIA!
Ahmed Ismail March 03, 2014 at 11:24 AM
I don't think they have reporting anymore. Since Sarah Martin left, they must have had a total restructuring and have basically turned it in to a site where anyone can put anything on under the guise of an article or blog, the facts are never verified, no opinions are every expressed, and articles such as this one are continually sent out by email to those who subscribe to the Patch with the word "UPDATE" in front of the title, even though the update was made a week ago. All you have to do is look at the coverage of the Tech Bond issue. There was NO reporting. When our "Teacher of the Year" Gary Abud invented an opposition group to the bond he named "TechNO" to sensationalize his article and was ultimately called out for it by their readers, not a word was said by The Patch management other than a short footnote allowing Abud to cover himself at the beginning of the article. It's a shame, as the community had grown to depend on Sarah's writing, especially when it came to what was going on with our schools.
1Percentwhopays4U March 03, 2014 at 01:07 PM
YOU get what you elect.
1Percentwhopays4U March 03, 2014 at 01:11 PM
Oh, and if you are silently sitting back while Dr. Outlaw gets railroaded out of town, then you will again get what you deserve. If you don't spool up on what occurs at school board meetings, you get what you deserve and your children will suffer likewise. I understand our Superintendent is under review at a meeting tomorrow night. Doubtful all the moms will go out in the cold but they will certainly complain about their little Susie and Johny get in the end. Apathy is not commitment.
Love the Pointe's March 04, 2014 at 06:56 AM
Ralph, I attended the last two council meetings and met with the Chief after the meeting to get some information on the issue of replacing the dog. I made some notes: The Chief was very complimentary of Sgt. Mike and Raleigh, however, I learned that GP City funded the dog for eight years pretty much on their own, while the dog was only used on active calls about 2% of the time. He stated that Detroit, Harper Woods, St. Clair Shores used the dog about 55% of active runs. The Chief reported to council that they are working with the K-9 safety partners to raise funds and that GP Farms will be getting a dog that will be used by all the Pointe's and that all the cities are going to contribute. He also mentioned that they contracted out dispatch and lost employees, so it is a budget issue to the council. Just thought you should know what was said.
MaryLynn Bertetto March 04, 2014 at 08:10 AM
Hey 1% Can u explain the Dr outlaw situation to me? I can't get the straight story.
Ralph March 06, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Hey Love the Pointes, I'm glad you talked to the chief and got his standard line ... you must believe him. Now try talking to Sgt. Almeranti or some of the other officers who know the real story. As far as I'm concerned the K9 is just another public safety tool like a gun that stays in an officer's holster 99% of the time or a fire truck that sits in a garage forever. Why does K9 have to be it's own profit center why everything else in the department does not? The difference with K9 is that there are people who are willing to pay for it and the city manager and chief do not want their money! Why is that? Why didn't the chief bill the other Grosse Pointes to share the expenses - the old chief did. Why did the chief IMMEDIATELY mothball the K9 car? He says it's old and useless but I guarantee you that if Raleigh had not died he would still be riding around in the old Crown Vic! Now the chief can say that he can't afford $50,000 for a new K9 SUV! Yes, I've heard the chief's arguments and they are all nonsense. I know what is really going on but I'll let you do your homework. What you'll find is typical, disgusting GP politics!
Marlene Pierce March 21, 2014 at 08:33 AM
There is a new tech survey, to plan the direction of the next bond request and/or tech spending in the schools. Please take it!!!! Expires March 27!! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GPPSSTechPlanningSurvey

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