District voters asked to renew 10-year sinking fund

Sparta’s sinking fund has paid for a new roof for the White Early Childhood Center, among other uses

On Tuesday, May 7 the Sparta Area Schools Board of Education will ask voters to renew its sinking fund for an additional 10 years, at a rate of 1.25 mills. A community forum is planned for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 30 at the administration offices, 465 S. Union, for anyone who would like to ask questions about the ballot proposal.

A Building and Sinking Fund is a savings account where districts may hold voter-approved local millage revenue in order to pay for unexpected projects or repairs that arise. Sinking fund monies must be used for specific purposes, including construction and repair of school buildings, school security or site improvements, and the purchase of real estate. These funds cannot be used for salaries, supplies, or equipment.

A sinking fund has been in place since it first passed in 2000 and was last renewed in 2010. If not approved, the current sinking fund will expire at the end of 2019. The district currently levies 1.15-mills each year for its sinking fund, and, if approved, the levy would remain the same for the next 10 years.

“Sparta Area Schools must take care of our facilities and will need to continue to make needed repair,” said Superintendent Pete Bush. “If the sinking fund is not successful the district may need to make cuts in other areas which could mean reduced programs and larger class sizes in the future. These are the things we hope to avoid.”

Over time, the sinking fund has generated about $10 million and has been used for:

  • new roofs on White Early Childhood Center, middle school, Appleview Elementary, and transportation garage
  • has repaired or replaced HVAC and boiler systems at three facilities
  • replaced flooring (carpet and tile) throughout many buildings, including refinishing and sealing gym floors
  • Replaced or repaired concrete and asphalt drives and parking lots throughout the district

“Without these funds they all would have needed to be paid for with our general fund, which is designated primarily for instructional purposes, supporting our children in the classrooms. It has been vital to the financial stability and programming that currently exists in our district,” said Bush.

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

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