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Residents Have Mixed Reactions to Fenton's $9.6 Million Bond

Fenton Schools would use the funds to purchase technology, school buses and improve traffic flow.

Some Fenton residents stand behind the application for a $9.6 million bond to be placed on the May 8 ballot. Others aren't so sure.

Fenton Schools approved the proposal and in January and would use the funds to purchase technology, school buses, improve traffic flow at  and increase parking capacity at . Additional security updates are also planned for every school building, according to the Fenton's Area Public Schools website.

Many Fenton residents posted their feelings about the bond on the Fenton Patch Facebook Page.

Theresa Cummings said she will support the bond for sure.

"Our technology is so outdated," she said. "Our children need to have this to be successful now and in the future! The drop off and parking situations are very dangerous and we need upgrades to alleviate this problem."

Vera Hogan said "no way" to the parking lot reconstruction.

"One of the things they want to do is improve the traffic flow between AGS and the high school. They redid that a few years ago - no DO OVERS!" she posted

School officials say current computers don't have, and will not support, the programs and systems required for students and staff.

"Technology, research and writing are necessary skills for today's job market," Fenton Superintendent Timothy Jalkanen said, according to the Tri-County Times. "In order to be competitive with other school districts in the county, we need to update our technology."

Officials also said Fenton buses at the average are 12 years old and are getting expensive to repair.

Kristine Kundrick said she will support the bond, albeit reluctantly.

"I still have a child in the system and if you do not support the bond, the school will go for blood and cut out busing or some other vital service claiming they have no money," she said.

A $9.6 million bond would equal approximately a 1 mill increase or about $80 annually for a home with a market value of $160,000.

Kristie Trapp said it may not sound like much, but it all adds up.

"I see the need but would have a hard time saying yes because of all the families who are barely scraping by as it is," she said.

If the bond doesn’t pass, the district will make improvements as it can afford them or take money from the general fund, according to the Flint Journal.

“We want to keep those general fund dollars really focused on the classroom,” Doug Busch, director of finance and personnel, told the Flint Journal.

Jason Alexander (Editor) February 06, 2012 at 04:04 PM
What do you think of the bond?
stephanie pytlowanyj February 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Any one that knows me knows that I love kids but enough is enough. I have lived in Fenton for all 3 of the bond proposals, the installation of the 2.1 million dollar water plant, increase in garbage rates, etc., Enough is enough, as it's getting too expensive to live in Fenton. Further where is the parents responsibility in helping to keep their child current with technology. When my children were younger we had a computer in the house for them to use. Why can't the parent share some responsibility in educating their child? The parking situation at AGS was a mess from the get go. How many more bonds are going to be presented to fix it? Regarding State Rd, I don't quite understand what the problem is there. When I've been in the neighborhood it looks adequate or was there more poor planning in that situation too when the parking was restructured with the last bond? Most families have learned how to budget and so does the school district. Cut some of the fat from the schools. Do we really need all those secretaries in the building? I live by one and she is at home, being paid, more then she's at work. Do we need to use the buses for field trips etc., I remember having to drive my child plus 2 or 3 others when they were in pre-school and going on field trips. The school district needs to learn to be creative, and start saving some money instead of keep asking, and asking, and the parents need to step up and take some responsibility.
Kristie Easler Trapp March 25, 2012 at 04:42 PM
The bond in 2006 did not raise taxes at all. It maintained the level already being paid. This bond will only increase your tax by $80/year if your house is valued at $160k. That means for many of us, it will be even less. Parking at State Road was not reconfigured with the last bond. The parking lot was promised to be resurfaced, but it wasn't, just re-striped because you couldn't tell where the lines were anymore. In the past few years the district has placed 5th graders (abt 90 students) back at the elementary buildings & sixth graders (about 250) were moved to AGS without moving other students out in an effort to save money at the FIS building. The savings has been offset by traffic problems. In many areas in the district, students who are considered to be walkers walk very busy streets w/out sidewalks, including Shiawassee & Hartand & State Roads. Add this to the number of bus stops being cut & you have a substantially larger number of students who are picked up & dropped off. It is easy to say, “Back in my day we walked!” but the world our children are growing up in is not the same as the one you may have raised your child in 20- 30 years ago. For safety reasons, more parents do drive their children to school.
Kristie Easler Trapp March 25, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Drive by State Road in the afternoon you will see that there is not enough room for parents to either use the loop or to park in the lots to accommodate the additional parent pickups. Traffic spills out onto State Road in both directions as well as down the side streets, with parents parked or waiting to get into the very small area available. Stop by AGS between 7:10 & 7:25 or in the afternoon between 2:00 & 2:45 & you will see that there are many, many issues to be addressed on Donaldson affecting not only drivers, but kids who walk to/from as well. To put it into perspective approximately 2000 students are moving in & out of the Donaldson Dr. campuses w/in 45 minutes. As to the technology portion, our students live in a technology based world & they deserve the same educational standard that your students had. Our buildings currently use Office 2003, over 10 years old. The newest version of that software is already three years old: Office 2010. Many of our families ARE using the newer version as you suggest.. They ARE taking responsibility. The issue lies in presenting their home-based work to their school-based teacher & peers. The newer versions are more advanced than the school owned software. When opened, the homework is automatically saved to a lower version, skewing the appearance & formatting. In many cases, the entire project needs to be re-edited to be presented on the current equipment. This can result in a lower grade for the student when it is due today.
Kristie Easler Trapp March 25, 2012 at 04:49 PM
It is unfortunate that some in the community think that they should stop supporting the schools when their children graduate. The school was not built on the day your child entered with only your tax money. Those who went before you paid their way & continued to do so while they attended, just as you are being asked to do & we will do long after our children are in college & beyond. In return, those of us who have school aged children support the Loose Senior Center & pay Social Security, knowing we will not benefit from it. If you feel your neighbor is cheating the system, perhaps you should call the Admin office and express your concerns. Perhaps you are unaware of the true circumstances. If you feel the offices are overstaffed, I would suggest you spend a few days volunteering in one of them to see if you change your mind. I can guarantee you will be surprised.
stephanie pytlowanyj March 25, 2012 at 09:30 PM
The first bond (over a decade ago) was a large one; as I recall it was about 87 million dollars. Also as I recall we were told another bond wouldn't be requested for 20 years. Well it's not even been 20 years since the first bond and the school district is back asking for a 3rd one! As I recall a consultant was even hired to get the first bond passed and the guilt trip strategy that was utilized worked. And there certainly were a lot of questions about how that money was going to be spent. One clear example I remember was $35,000.00 for a ladder for the pool. There was a bond, if not the second, then the first that dealt with the poor parking at the Elementary schools as well as building a cafeteria/auditorium at each. The Fenton kids are lucky....they aren't having buildings closed, services cut, and limited busing as some districts are doing to make ends meet. Personally my wallet isn't a deep well for Fenton schools to keep drawing from. Finally, why didn't the administration have the foresight to realize some of these issues with the software, etc., At the minimum we shouldn't have been told no more bonds for 20 years. At the maximum the school district needs to start trimming some of the fat in the school, and putting forth a good faith effort before I vote for another bond.
Kristie Easler Trapp March 26, 2012 at 03:00 AM
The first bond did build the new cafetoriums for all three elementary schools, but there were no parking upgrades at State Road except for the bus loop next to the cafetorium. The soccer lot & the main lot have remained unchanged for at least the 15 years I have lived in adjacent neighborhood. Perhaps you are thinking of one of the other buildings. The last bond was in 2006. At that time, the software we are discussing was 3 years old and the new software didn't come out for 7 more years. When your car is 13 years old, you are either looking for a new one or trying to limp along making repairs to the old one. FAPS has been making repairs for a number of years. It is now being done at the expense of educating our children. You can't pre-pay software that hasn't come out yet. I don't recall ANYONE ever saying there would be no need for a bond for twenty years. I can't imagine that someone would. That would be like saying because you replaced your water heater in your house, you will never need another dollar to sink in it. As you stated, the huge bond was over 10 years ago. Over the past five or so school funding has been slashed and slashed and slashed again. Comparing an 87 million dollar bond & the upgrades it provided to the amount that is being asked for is somewhat like comparing apples & oranges. Again, for a $160,000 home, the yearly cost is $80, the cost of the average family of 4 eating out an equivalent of twice in a year. Less for those with homes of lesser value.
Kristie Easler Trapp March 26, 2012 at 03:16 AM
It is unfortunate that you believe that cuts have not been made in the district. Elementary classes have been bursting for the last 5 years at or near the max number of students allowed per teacher. Teachers are buying their own supplies or the PTO's are providing them. We have not seen the deep cuts to our "extra" programs such as sports and the arts because we have a strong community of boosters for the individual programs and PTO's in the K-8 buildings. Parents are raising money or paying out of pocket to support the programs because they are important to them. Studies show that students who are interested in extracurricular programs perform better in school, as participation is based on their grades. Last year a few parents put together the now annual Tiger Run to raise money for the sports programs to prevent the cuts we have seen in other areas. Our support staff, teachers and even administration have taken cuts. It is obvious that no one will change your mind about this issue. It is easy to be critical when you are uninvolved. Hopefully our discussion will shed some light for others who come upon it who are willing to look at the facts. I thank you for helping me resolve to work to pass this bond that I was somewhat on the fence for to begin with. One more thought, if you think our home values are declining now, research the impact that failed bonds have on people's perception of the community they are looking to move into. That isn't a "scare tactic," but a fact.
stephanie pytlowanyj March 26, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Nope, all 3 elementary's had work on their parking lots with money from either the last bond or the bond before. And yes, I'm certain we were told no more money would be asked for a long period of time....you could search for that info in the TCT. Further, if you read the TCT it's written what cuts the Holly and Linden school districts are making. You never read that about Fenton, all you read is that Fenton is proposing yet another bond. If the classrooms were "bursting" for the last 5 years then why does Fenton Schools participate in school of choice? Teachers have bought their own supplies for years now and I doubt that will ever change. It's the nature of the beast. Just like I have to buy my own stethoscope etc., You are using scare tactics and in fact a lot of the tactics that were used over a decade ago.....write letters to the editors in favor of the bond, call into the hotlines in support of the bond, etc., Also, it's the foreclosed homes in Fenton, not the school district that is causing home values to decrease. If you don't understand that perhaps you need to read an economics book. Further none of your posts to Patch indicate you were "on the fence" (another tactic used in prior bonds). Finally I just don't trust the Fenton Administration with anymore of my money until they demonstrate that they are fiscally responsible. I still haven't forgotten that expensive ladder for the school pool--how irresponsible.

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