District News

Page updated Monday, April 29, 2024

What is Harper Creek Community Schools asking for in the May 7, 2024 bond proposal? 

Harper Creek Community Schools is in need of more classroom space. The primary reason for the bond proposal is to add four classroom additions at each elementary and remodel the vacant middle school pool into four additional classrooms. All new classrooms would receive furnishings and technology. The project would also upgrade playgrounds, parking, pick-up and drop-off, glass safety film on entrances, and a new bus garage parking lot. The high school would receive roof improvements, a secured vestibule at the student/athletic entrance, and weight room equipment. 

How much would the bond proposal cost taxpayers? 

The project would increase the school district’s overall debt millage by an estimated 0.6 mills over the 2023 debt levy and would cost a homeowner of a $200,000 house $5 a month or $60 a year. 

Estimated Millage Impact for Taxpayers

Formula: Taxable Value/$100 x 0.60 Mills =Projected Annual Increase

Market ValueTaxable ValueAnnual IncreaseMonthly Increase

Is the growth of student count at Harper Creek Community Schools because of the Schools of Choice program? 

No. Harper Creek Community Schools does participate in the Schools of Choice program, but the Board of Education has capped the percentage of students who are Schools of Choice for the past five years. We attribute the growth in student count to homeowners without children selling houses to families with children and the relatively large house rental population in the Harper Creek Community School District. 

What about the casino money? What does the district use that money for? 

The money the school district receives from the casino is officially called Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). The PILT is part of the casino's compact with the State of Michigan and is generated from 2% of the net win from electronic gaming. Harper Creek Community Schools’ share of the PILT is typically between $2 million and $2.3 million dollars annually. 

The district uses the PILT money for maintenance, bus purchases, vehicle purchases, technology devices and upgrades, school resource officers, school nurses & health aides, and several large projects. Most recently, a $1.5 million dollar upgrade to the high school heating and cooling system, middle school auto shop overhead doors, elementary and middle school gym lights, track resurfacing and striping, bus hoist replacement, and tennis court resurfacing, to name a few. The district is in the process of constructing a softball press box and plans to replace the stadium turf this summer. All of these are funded by the PILT instead of general fund dollars that fund education in the classroom. 

Why don’t we use the former Harper Creek Junior High and current Administration Building for extra classroom space? 

The Administration Building was the first building constructed when Harper Creek consolidated the smaller schools in the area. The building was not remodeled when the elementary and middle school buildings were upgraded in the mid-2000s. Therefore, there are major infrastructure needs for plumbing, electrical, and heating & cooling.  The long-term plan for Harper Creek’s facilities would be to build a new middle school when the bonds related to the 2001 and 2008 bond proposals are retired, which will occur through 2035. The most likely site for this middle school would be where the administration building is currently. The Board of Education has determined that spending significant community resources on a building that may not exist in the future would not be prudent. 

Does the Bond Proposal consider potential growth from the Blue Oval Battery Plant project? 

The Department of Treasury requires enrollment projections for the next five years for any district considering a voted bond proposal qualified for the School Bond Loan Fund. Harper Creek Community School’s enrollment projection estimated a 6% growth rate over the next five years. The Department of Treasury requires 85% utilization based on the five-year projection. Therefore, the current project was developed based on the current needs of the district. 

Why is Harper Creek Community Schools’ bond proposal relatively smaller than neighboring districts? 

When the high school was built and other buildings renovated, the district leveraged the maximum allowable for bonds using the School Bond Loan Fund program. This allowed the district to build the new high school and renovate buildings with the bonds related to the 2001 and 2008 bond proposals. Harper Creek should be able to leverage additional funding when currently bonds expire, which will occur through 2035. The bond proposal on the May 7, 2024 ballot would address current district priorities. 

Why do we need additional classrooms at our elementary buildings?

Harper Creek Community Schools needs more classroom space at our elementary buildings. We have reached capacity based on the desired classroom size, and we are currently providing special classes such as integrated art and Spanish using mobile carts as we do not have available classrooms specifically assigned to these teachers.

What class(es) will go into the new classrooms at the Middle School?

Based on the school's layout, the new classrooms in the proposed remodeled pool area at the middle school would likely be 8th grade. We are currently using every classroom space. Moving four 8th-grade classrooms would open more space for additional classrooms for grade levels with higher student populations, currently 5th and 7th grade. We also need classroom space for special education students, including a new autistic program. The middle school population continues to increase, and we want to ensure that class sizes are manageable.

What is the school district's budget? 

Michigan Compiled Law, MCL 388.1618(2), requires school districts and intermediate school districts to post certain budget and financial information on the district's website within 30 days after a board adopts its annual operating budget or any subsequent revision to that budget. The Budget and Salary / Compensation Transparency Reporting is an opportunity to communicate to our community how we utilize the resources that are provided to us.
Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has published guidelines for MCL 388.1618(2) Budget and Salary / Compensation Transparency Reporting.

HCCS's Transparency Reporting is available through the pop-up icon on the website or by going to the Transparency Reporting page under Our District. Further information may be found at Mi School Data. 

Questions? Contact Harper Creek Community Schools at 269.441.6550

What is the current status of the Crosby Drive property for sale? Is there any chance of benefiting from a sale in the near future?

The Crosby Drive property is a valuable district asset. The Board of Education has received offers for the property but will not settle unless the amount is in line with market value. Ultimately, selling this property to a developer to build single-family homes would be optimal for the community and district.

Bond Language

Paid for by Harper Creek Community School, 7454 B Drive North, Battle Creek, MI 49014 

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