On May 8th, Bloomfield Hills residents will go to the polls to vote on a measure crucial to the future of our community. On that day, we will decide whether to approve a bond proposal that will decide the future of our high schools.
Our community is known for its superior education system, but this system is strained. Our population is declining, and this trend is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future. We can no longer support the educational and athletic programs we demand using two aging high school buildings.
In recognition of these facts, this fall and will become “Bloomfield Hills High School”. The question before us is not whether to merge, but how.
The merger will allow us to fill team rosters and classrooms, maintaining the diversity of academic and athletic opportunities we want for our children---to some extent. But a unified high school spread across two campuses will require a great deal of busing throughout the day, and underfilled programs will be eliminated. We also will have to continue to try to maintain our aging physical plant.
Our teachers have worked hard to maintain our standards despite adverse conditions. Our students are using facilities designed for educational philosophies and technologies of the previous century, a model that may have served their parents well-enough, but will not serve them well.
Our property values which have dropped so much during the recession will drop even further if we fail to maintain our schools. Many of us moved to this community primarily for the schools and many of us would not have chosen to live here had we thought our community would even consider rejecting funding for education.
Our new superintendent and school board have come up with an innovative and cost-effective plan unrelated to any previous plans, both in content and in how it was developed. This time, the district extensively researched and quantified available resources and options, and actively and sincerely sought input from residents, including those who adamantly opposed past proposals.
The result of all of this is a truly remarkable solution for making the best of a difficult situation. Using our resources efficiently, it manages to redesign our educational spaces to bring them in line with the needs and expectations of a century that began over a decade ago, and remain flexible enough to adapt to technological and educational changes for decades to come.
Moreover, it is, in relative terms, a bargain. Due to the expiration of current millages, the new bond proposal will not add to our yearly taxes. It will replace old millages, with taxes actually decreasing over the next few years.
When we vote to approve the millage, we will save individual tax dollars, improve our property values, and most importantly, create for our community a new and lasting unified high school to serve our children for decades to come.