Hemlock schools contemplate 'what's next' after millage defeat

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HEMLOCK (WJRT) (11/6/2019) - Three Saginaw County school districts had millage proposals on the ballot last night.

Birch Run and Reese residents passed their proposals. But in Hemlock the vote was no, and now the district is trying to figure out what to do next.

"The morning after is difficult to process," said Hemlock Superintendent Don Killingbeck.

The vote was 770 no to 675 yes as people who live in Saginaw and Midland counties that make up the Hemlock Public Schools district denied a sinking fund millage.

The district with about 1,200 students was asking for an additional $611,000 for infrastructure upgrades.

"Safety and security for students, instructional technology, roofs, windows, pavement," Killingbeck said.

The schools asked for a similar monetary amount two years ago, but the result was the same. Killingbeck said people who live in the district always support renewals, but increasing taxes a bit has been challenging.

"Since 1994, we have went for six different enhancements, small tax increases and everyone of them has been turned down," he said.

Killingbeck said some of the money would have been used to replace windows that were installed in 1959 -- 60 years ago.

Camera and technology upgrades for the district's four buildings would have been purchased. A service drive used by many parents would have been paved. And roofs would have received much needed attention.

"We are down to about six to 18 months to have some serious leaks that we will have to address," Killingbeck said.

He said a survey will be conducted to see what the voters want to do now. Another sinking fund request could be put on the ballot next year.

Killingbeck said something will have to be done eventually.

"Are we going to take it away from our kids and our programs with less staff, less programming, or are we going to find another way to do this?" he said.

The earliest the district could ask residents for another sinking fund request would be March 10.