Berkley Schools 2023 Bond Proposal: What If. Election Date: August 8, 2023

Frequently Asked Questions


$88,000,000 equates to a 2.25 mill increase which would be collected starting in 2024. This is 2.25 mills on the taxable value of a home, not the total value. Each homeowner’s cost may be different depending on filing status, age and other income tax variables.

An example: A home worth $200,000 typically has a taxable value of $100,000. 2.25 mills levied on this home would cost $225/year, before any income tax considerations. However, your costs may be less.

Ultimately, this Bond would cost on average less than a dollar a day.

Visit this online millage rate calculator to determine how the proposed 2.25 mill increase for the 2023 August Bond initiative would impact your taxes. To utilize the calculator, you will need the taxable value of your property as issued by the Oakland County Treasurer's Office. 

How do I find my taxable value?

Visit the Oakland County Property Gateway to look up your address and taxable value.

The estimated millage that would be levied for the proposed bonds in 2024 is 3.06 mills, which is 2.25 mills higher than in 2023. ($2.25 more per $1,000 of taxable value)

Explanation: The State requires school districts to use a formula to calculate the estimated average cost of mills over the life of the Bond. In order to determine the rates (mills), the statutory requirement is to use the last five years of average taxable value growth as a basis to determine/project the next five years of taxable value growth. The past five years showed a positive growth in District taxable value (including homes, commercial, etc) that results in a projection of positive 3.25% per year increase in taxable value growth for the next five years (or ~16% in total for the next five years), and 2% increase each year thereafter for the balance of the bond maturity schedule. The resulting 3.61 mills average estimate is based on this projected positive growth in home values over the course of the bond payment schedule (2024-2049) and the District is statutorily required to include that number within the ballot language. Oakland County is projecting a 4.25% growth moving forward.

The Berkley School District is currently seventh from the bottom of Homestead (primary homeowner) Tax Rates out of 28 districts in Oakland County. If the 2023 Bond Proposal is passed, the District will remain in the lower half of all districts. 

PDF DocumentCurrent tax rate chart for Oakland County school districts

Under current law, Bond dollars may be used for construction and remodeling of facilities, purchasing instructional technology equipment, equipment and furniture, and site improvements.

Bond dollars cannot be used for operational costs such as: salaries and wages, maintenance, classroom supplies and textbooks and non-instructional technology.

Yes. The city of Berkley has a ballot measure on the May 2023 ballot. This is separate and distinct from the Berkley Schools ballot initiative in August 2023. The city of Berkley funds do not pay for anything in the Berkley Schools and vice versa.

As of April 2023, to the best of our knowledge, nothing else will be on the Berkley, Huntington Woods or Oak Park ballot. 

If the bond is passed in August 2023, it allows the District to begin the work of designing spaces and securing contractors early into the 2023-24 school year. This, in turn, puts the District ahead of the construction season for the spring bidding process and ensures work can begin as soon as possible. Contractors can be difficult to secure, and having the most lead time can allow for projects to follow the timeline outlined in the Bond plan.

By securing quotes early, it also allows the District to plan for any escalating costs that might be included by contractors due to inflation. In addition, the District collaborated with all three municipalities (Berkley, Huntington Woods, Oak Park) to choose an election date that does not compete with any city ballot requests.

While it would be difficult to put actual numbers on operational costs for buildings and additions that are not designed yet, the District’s facilities team has reached out to local districts and those in Michigan who have added on additions and athletic facilities. They have been able to share their additional costs, to help the District be confident the annual operating budget would be able to accommodate any additional costs. In addition, all of our construction projects (and current schools) include energy saving methods such as lights that turn off when rooms are empty, energy efficient boilers and Vertical Unit Ventilators, temperature controls, LED lights, etc. This helps the District save on costs as well. Plus, the District collects fees for outside rental use which would continue if the Bond passes, and that would directly offset any new costs the facilities would create.

Additional staffing needs are also tough to predict, without designed buildings and additions, but any additional custodians would also be minimal and be able to be absorbed by the current operating budget. The District would not create a proposal for voters if it was not confident the budget could afford any additional expenses related to the Bond.

Taxable value is the amount you would use to calculate the impact of the Bond proposal.


Our custodial and maintenance teams work extremely hard to keep our buildings up and running for our students. However, it has been 15-35 years (depending on the project) since the District has been able to fund upgrades to athletics, performing arts, science labs and classroom furniture. 

The Berkley School District utilizes a Sinking Fund for maintaining all buildings (approx. $3.5 million/year). This money is used to repair roofs, leaks, pavement, purchase electrical parts and more. While $3.5 million per year sounds like a lot, one year of Sinking Fund dollars will not pay for one multi-purpose/cafeteria addition at an elementary school, as an example. When the District looked at the finance capabilities of the Sinking Fund, it simply didn’t have enough funds to cover the needs list at all buildings. The 2023 Bond would fund the larger projects, allowing the Sinking Fund to tackle projects like turf at Hurley Field, partnering with cities and local organizations to fund softball fields, construct a new maintenance building as well as continue to fund regular maintenance costs.

The facilities study called for $120M in needs in 2014. In 2015, the community approved $59 million for a Bond, tackling half of the work. The 2023 Bond calls for $88M, encompassing the balance of the 2014 recommended work as well as new projects that have emerged as the facilities studies continued. 

Berkley Building Blocks does not have a scope of work for the 2023 Bond for two reasons. First, it received three rounds of Child Care Stabilization Grants from 2021-2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants resulted in nearly $3 million in funds to improve BBB. The grants paid for upgrades including new classroom furniture, new playground equipment, concrete improvements, new computers and iPads for each teacher, diverse books for each classroom and increases to the teacher and assistant teacher salary grid.

Second, BBB underwent significant improvements during the 2015 Bond. This included a two room infant classroom addition, classroom upgrades, wifi, staff devices, playground overhaul and combining both the Tyndall and Avery programs into one Early Childhood Center.

BBB will benefit from technology network upgrades that will take place if the 2023 Bond passes.

Hurley Field would receive upgrades in the 2023 Bond scope including new LED lighting, new team rooms for both the home and visiting teams, new expanded parking, landscaping and relocating track and field performance spaces.

Outside of the 2023 Bond scope, Hurley Field will receive upgrades from the District’s Sinking Fund: new turf, new track, new press box, upgraded concession area, remodeled restrooms and an updated sound system.

Yes. Additional athletics scope will be addressed through the District’s Sinking Fund. This includes potential partnerships with cities and local organizations to improve softball, baseball and soccer facilities.

Norup underwent significant improvements during the 2015 Bond, including a multi-purpose cafeteria addition. Norup’s work in the 2023 Bond would be focused on a gym refresh, classroom furniture, media center furniture, classroom technology and staff devices.

The 2015 Bond was passed by the community on May 5, 2015. The Bond was for $58,950,000 to invest in critical infrastructure replacement, district-wide technology upgrades, security and safety improvements, and classroom and program upgrades for aging school facilities. The 2015 Bond tackled half of the $120 million in identified facilities need by an independent contractor. 

Here is the 2015 Bond Plan Overview: 

  • Improve air quality and comfort for students
  • Improve learning environments and technology 
  • Safety and Security (e.g. main office additions, security cameras) 
  • Technology (e.g. network and infrastructure) 
  • Site Work (e.g. drainage)
  • Architectural Deferred Maintenance (e.g. toilet rooms, ceilings) 
  • Code Improvements
  • Building Systems (e.g. heating/cooling)
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (e.g. boilers)

Additional details on the 2015 Bond webpage.

In the last two years, the District installed large ceiling fans in the gyms to help with ventilation. Currently, there are no line items in the Bond proposal for gymnasium air conditioning. However, if the Bond passes and bids come in lower than expected, it is on the wish list of projects to complete if the funds are available.

What would the proposed field house be used for?

For our District students, the field house and the outdoor fields would be used on a daily basis. We anticipate that the field house would be used daily and that thousands of people would use it monthly. Here are a few examples:

First, the marching band would have access to the space daily - about 150 students and adults combined. Because the current field across from the high school is not marked for football or drained properly to use for the band, the band often practices at Hurley Field. The Marching Band has class first hour, but because Hurley Field is not at the BHS property, the Band cannot practice their marching on a marked field during class. And, because the demand on Hurley Field is so high for both middle school and high school sports, the Band has been practicing at 9-10:30 pm. If the field house were available, the students could practice daily during their class time, and alleviate both the stress of a night time practice and relieve the request from Hurley Field.

Second, Berkley Schools has two middle schools and one high school. And one stadium. All three schools have sports schedules that mirror each other. All three have demands on the fields for practice and games. With limited options at the lot across from the high school, scheduling has been incredibly difficult to fit in all the requests. With a field house and additional fields at the Catalpa lot, the stress that is put on Hurley Field would be lessened -  also extending the life of the field. High school teams (football, boys and girls soccer, lacrosse, rugby, baseball, softball, etc) could use the field house for daily practices, conditioning and as well as the physical education classes could cross the street to utilize more space than our small gyms allow.

Third, the robotics teams would use the space daily for their building and practicing. Currently they are cramped into two rooms housed in the current maintenance building that are not adequate for building or properly testing their robots, but it’s the only space available for them. The robotics season lasts almost the entire school year.

Fourth, spring sports teams are often rained out of practice - and for baseball and softball, Berkley Schools does not own any softball fields, and only owns little league sized baseball fields. In other words, the maintenance of these fields are out of the District's control. If a field house were available, anytime the weather does not cooperate, our teams could continue to practice and improve their skills without risking damage to school gyms.

In addition to daily student use, the District currently rents out all of its fields and facilities to community groups such as the Berkley Steelers, the SOCS and DCFC soccer clubs, Woodward Bears Lacrosse, and the Berkley Dads Club baseball. All of these children, literally thousands, would have the opportunity to use both the field house and the outdoor fields. The Steelers, for example, currently use the fields at the Catalpa site, plus Hurley Field, plus some of our school lawns because Berkley Schools does not have enough space to accommodate them. The field house, with a divider system, would be able to accommodate all the needs of these groups - and with additional spaces, our school teams would be able to be done practicing earlier in the day, allowing for more time for our community groups to rent our spaces, instead of having to go to neighboring communities to use their facilities.

Which school districts have field houses?

Country Day, Lincoln Consolidated, Brighton and Jackson schools have them. Many districts on the west side of the state also have field houses. However, many local districts also have additional dedicated athletics buildings that Berkley Schools does not, such as large natatoriums, additional auxiliary gyms, large team room spaces, large practice facilities, etc. It’s hard to compare apples to apples because many districts have much more land and have passed $150-$550 million in bonds in the last two years to invest in new multi-purpose athletics facilities that are not necessarily labeled “field house” but are often labeled as indoor practice facilities and serve very similar purposes.

How much would the field house cost?

If you look at the PQA document (the detailed plan proposal the District submitted to the State Treasury in order to proceed with the ballot proposal) the entire Catalpa Lot project totals: $19,372,500. This includes two outdoor fields, outdoor lighting, current building demolition work, site work such as drainage and landscaping, asphalt for parking lots, equipment, technology as well as the actual building. Not included in that total project number are the construction management and permit costs. We have a total construction fee number for all of the Berkley High School proposed projects. The cost of the entire project will go up if you include the construction fees, but not by $11 million. (If you escalate the total project cost by 121%, it totals $23,440,725 - an estimated inflation number if the build would take place in the 2024-25 school year).

The District community passed a Sinking Fund in 2018. This Sinking Fund was approved for ten years and collects approximately $3.8 million annually. A Sinking Fund’s primary purpose is for maintenance and funds projects like roof repairs, concrete repairs/upgrades, plumbing, electrical, draining and site work, relieving the General Operating Fund budget. It can also fund larger projects, and recently was the funding source for the Anderson multi-purpose cafeteria addition. Furniture and non-instructional technology are not eligible Sinking Fund expenses. Salaries are also not eligible. 

A Bond is for a much larger scope of projects than a Sinking Fund can afford. The 2023 Bond proposal is for $88 million to fund additions, complete renovations and District-wide instructional technology. With a Bond proposal, furniture is an eligible expense, however, just like with the Sinking Fund, salaries are not eligible. If approved, instead of receiving an amount annually like the Sinking Fund, Bond proposals receive funding up front and then the District repays that amount annually for 25 years. This is the only method available for Districts in the state of Michigan to fund larger construction projects.


Since the 2014 facilities study and the 2015 Bond work, the District has continued to evaluate the remaining scope of work and continued to study facility needs.

In 2022, a District team completed the following visits and meetings: 

  • Visited athletics and performing arts spaces in districts in the Metro Detroit area
  • Solicited input from BHS administration, District Administrative Team, staff, and Board of Education through meetings and workshops
  • Superintendent's Student Advisory Board meetings
  • Meetings with the following stakeholders: parents/guardians, booster groups, PTA representatives, staff members, administrators, community athletics groups

Keeping our students and staff safe is our number one priority, and the District has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in safety and security over the last eight years.

Major security upgrades were included in the 2015 Bond, including secure entrances and security camera upgrades. Since then, the District has invested in, through many grant funding sources: additional security cameras (for complete coverage in all buildings), visitor, emergency and reunification management systems, signage for all buildings (inside and out) to assist public safety officers during a crisis, mental health specialists (which cannot be paid for via Bonds), social emotional learning tools, Nightlock devices in all buildings, Go Buckets, first aid kits, 3D building mapping to assist public safety during a crisis, continued investment in ALICE training for staff and students and vape sensors in secondary buildings.

With the additional safety grant funding the District has received, it allowed the proposed Bond projects and budgets to be dedicated to other projects.

For the 2015 Bond, the District hosted architect and construction management interviews. These were thorough and very in depth. The District's relationships with both McCarthy & Smith (construction) and Stantec (architects) have continued since 2015. They have been excellent partners helping the District navigate the construction world through the completion of the 2015 Bond as well as through Sinking Fund projects like the Anderson multi-purpose addition. They offer outstanding counsel, work ethic and competitive pricing.

If the Bond is defeated, the District will accomplish the highest need projects through Sinking Fund dollars, but most of the scope of work would not be completed. This means athletics facilities, performing arts spaces and science labs will receive very few upgrades. Classroom and media center furniture would not be purchased because furniture is not Sinking Fund eligible. Some technology upgrades would take place, but limited in scope from what is proposed. The remaining Sinking Fund dollars (over the next six years combined) cannot fully fund all four elementary multi-purpose/cafeteria additions.

The last day to register to vote is Election Day, Tuesday, August 8, 2023.

Voters can complete an absentee ballot on Election Day, August 8, 2023, at City Hall.

If the 2023 Bond Proposal is passed, the following is the timeline for work to be completed:

  • Design work would begin in Fall 2023
  • Taxes would be collected beginning in Summer 2024
  • Construction work would begin in 2024, to be completed by the end of 2026
  • Multiple projects would happen each year
    • Plan would build two elementary multi-purpose additions at a time
    • Consideration would be given to program usage of spaces that would go under construction for as minimal disruption as possible

In the 2022-23 school year, the BHS Auditorium hosted 57 events across the District including band, orchestra and choir concerts for grades 5-12, vocal music concerts for grades TK-4, information nights, convocation, musicals and plays and more. Those 57 events do not include rehearsal time for the fall play, middle school musical and spring musical, staff meetings held in the auditorium or daily student use for classes. On average, the auditorium hosts 350 guests (out of the 630 seats available) per event, totaling just under 20,000 visitors annually.

Building Additions

The life expectancy of every building addition is decades - our buildings currently range from 66-102 years old, and they’re still going strong with the upgrades made to infrastructure and HVAC in the 2015 Bond. Our custodial and maintenance teams work extremely hard to keep our buildings up and running for our students. However, it has been 15-35 years (depending on the project) since the District has been able to fund upgrades to athletics, performing arts, science labs and classroom furniture. 

Science Labs

The life expectancy of the science labs is also decades - the last time the labs were remodeled was in 1994.


The life expectancy for classroom and media center furniture is also long lasting. Furniture has not been purchased for every space in the district in the last 30 years. Some spaces have received upgrades, but in general, students are using the same desks, tables and chairs from the early 1990s. It is expected that flexible seating and furniture would last for a very long time. With the furniture warranties and general fund replacements as needed, this would be a purchase that would have a long-lasting impact.

As part of the Bond planning process, Berkley Schools enlisted four classrooms to pilot new furniture in the spring of 2023 so teachers could learn what works best for student engagement. The pilot classrooms were placed for each level - elementary, middle and high school. The new furniture is flexible and adaptable for all learners, and includes specialized furniture where needed to support students with special needs. At the end of the school year, the District surveyed students and teachers about the pilot furniture to gather feedback.


Through the 2015 Bond, the District purchased projectors and white boards for instruction for each classroom as well as sound amplification systems and new staff computers. In 2023, the projectors are beginning to fail and need to be replaced as well as the staff/instructional computers - which is right on par with their life expectancy. However, the white boards and sound amplification systems are still working. Technology often has a 6-8 year life span. The 2023 Bond would purchase the next generation of classroom technology and the District would seek grants in future years to do the same as well as utilize Sinking Fund resources.

As part of the Bond application to the Michigan Treasury, Berkley Schools submitted a 10 year enrollment projection, performed by a demographics expert. If the Treasury finds evidence of too steep of a projected decline, they can choose not to approve the proposal or ask schools to trim down their scope of work. The District did not encounter either scenario and the Treasury approved the Bond proposal as presented. Berkley Schools has experienced some decline in the last few years, particularly in the pandemic years, but has not declined so much as to alter the need for new spaces and equipment  for students. The enrollment projections paired with the Schools of Choice program for students TK-5, as well as other revenue sources, do not predict a significant loss of revenue. We also know students do leave the District for school districts with improved facilities - and we believe improved facilities would help retain students in the long run.

Research has shown that adaptable, flexible learning spaces increase student engagement and capacity for learning including specialized furniture for students with special needs. The new furniture would allow for deeper student collaboration and would be right sized for students at each level. New technology in the classroom would allow students to continue their collaborative learning with their teachers and with their individual devices. The choir classroom at the high school would move from the little theater in the basement of the high school to inside the black box theater, the BHS band and orchestra rooms would be renovated, the BHS science labs would receive a complete update and the BHS robotics program would have new dedicated spaces for building.

Student learning is also not restricted to the classroom. The multi-purpose additions at elementary schools would house the 5th grade band and orchestra programs. Elementary and Norup Media Centers would receive new furniture for enhanced learning and collaboration while students are in their media classes. Performing arts and athletics programs are areas with continuous lessons on courage, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and curiosity - the six traits of our District’s Portrait of a Learner that are critical to developing well-rounded individuals.