01-11-2018 Cupcakes for Zoe fundraiser, Friday Jan. 12 at Watervliet varsity basketball games; Colo

Cupcakes for Zoe fundraiser, Friday Jan. 12 at Watervliet varsity basketball games

 On Friday, Jan. 12 during the Watervliet High School varsity basketball games the varsity cheerleaders are holding a fundraiser for the family of Zoe Phillips. They will have fresh cupcakes for a donation.

Zoe Phillips, a 9-year-old, was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma in August 2016. She is currently waiting to be accepted for a clinical trial somewhere in the U.S. The Watervliet High School varsity cheerleaders are hoping to ease some of the financial burden for Zoe’s family.

The games are at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. in the WHS gymnasium against the Tigers of Lawrence.

WAITING FOR SPRING…Al Hartline snapped this photo recently at the Watervliet Municipal Airport. The airplane is owned by Jonathon Ammundsen

Coloma School Board approves Sinking Fund Millage Ballot Proposal

By Annette Christie

Following several months filled with information and consideration, the Coloma School Board voted during their Monday, January 8 meeting to place a sinking fund millage request for 1.25 mills for up to 10 years on the May 8, 2018 ballot.

At the December meeting the board was given a presentation from    Eduardo Blanc of TMP Architecture on the subject of requesting a Sinking Fund from voters in the district. This followed an introductory given by Superintendent Pete Bush previously.

Blanc told the board that to prepare for a sinking fund initiative it is necessary to assess and document the condition of the facilities and then to prepare a scope of work and some estimates to accompany those needs.  The next step would be communicating with the community and to inform their voters.

The district is facing some aged roofs which are causing problems. When the district looked at replacing the roof on the high school a few years back, the estimate was $1.2 million but this is just a fraction of what is needed.  “There is at least $5 million in repairs needed in the district today,” Superintendent Pete Bush said.

The district currently has a bond issue that voters put in place in 2012, to run through 2031.  This funded several improvements district wide.  They also have two separate Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) that are 0% interest funds for various improvements and updates.  While the lack of interest payments is attractive, the funds still have to be paid back out of the general fund and the district pays back over $400,000 a year.  Despite all of these things that have been done to improve the facilities, their financial needs continue.

If approved by voters, the district will have a set number of years that they know will bring in a steady funding source used for facility updates. With a sinking fund the district will not have to pay any interest and will spend the funding as it comes in.

Bush provided a comparison of the student foundation allowance that school districts receive per student.  It reflects the discrepancies between districts; New Buffalo School District receives $10,124 per student while Coloma School District receives $7,631 per student.  In 10 years, that amount has only increased $315 per student, not even coming close to the operation expenses increase over that same time period.

Bush told the board that nine out of 13 public K-12 School Districts in Berrien County have a Sinking Fund.

“The community deserves facilities that are well taken care of and with our general fund, that has been a challenge,” Bush said adding, “With a sinking fund, every dollar put in goes right into the district as an investment with no interes