River Valley School District, Three Oaks, Michigan
River Valley School District, Three Oaks, Michigan
River Valley School District, Three Oaks, MichiganRiver Valley School District
15480 Three Oaks Road    [ Directions ]
Three Oaks, Michigan 49128
(269) 756-9541 or (269) 426-4415
Fax: (269) 756-6631
River Valley School District, Three Oaks, Michigan
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River Valley School District, Three Oaks, Michigan



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Facts & Truth

This page has been created to inform and answer questions the River Valley community may have about the upcoming bond vote that will put a new elementary school on the same site as the Middle/High School.

If you have any questions, please use our survey link below to ask your question. Names are not required to ask your questions. The questions and answers will be listed on this page.

Click here to ask any questions you may have about the Bond Proposal: What is your question?

Why do the existing facilities need to be replaced?  The current elementary buildings, Chikaming Campus and Three Oaks Campus, were built to 1950's building codes which are not efficient by today's standards, nor do they meet the needs of education today.  The current inefficiencies of these 50-60 year old buildings are numerous and costly, to budget, environment, and education.  To continue run two elementary buildings for the number of students we have is irresponsible, yet neither building is able to house all the students we currently have.  Operating two separate buildings incurs twice the maintenance costs of copy machines, meal serving equipment, refrigeration equipment, stoves, ovens, boilers/heating units, libraries, computer labs, and transportation costs of shuttling students to "balance" classroom sizes.  Our current buildings do not have the electrical capacity to support the technology that is the future trend in education.  The size of the classrooms, lack of storage, condition of original flooring, and lighting of these aged buildings are all very important reasons for doing SOMETHING.  Estimated renovation costs for the two buildings very nearly match the cost of building this new, efficient, up to date building. A new elementary  building built to today’s standards to house all of our elementary students is clearly the most reasonable, logical, and financially responsible answer.

How does this bond differ from previous proposals?  The Board of Education and administrators have listened to community concerns and have reduced the cost of this bond issue and scaled back the size, in an effort to make this bond as affordable as possible.

Why do we need to build at this time?  We currently house 334 elementary students in two aging buildings that need to be remodeled or replaced.  Neither building has enough classrooms to house all of our students at one location.  Bond rates are low and construction costs are the lowest they have been in years.  The new elementary building will have energy efficient mechanical systems along with plumbing upgrades that will save money and be environmentally friendly.  The operational savings from a new elementary school will save the district over $140,000 annually; this money can be used to make improvements to the middle/high school in the areas of heating, cooling, air quality, technology and increase educational opportunities for students.

What is this proposalThis proposal is about our shared commitment to educational excellence, improved health and safety conditions.  This proposal asks school district voters to approve the sale of $13,730,000 in bonds to fund construction and renovations that will include:

    • A new River Valley Elementary School
    • A complete upgrade to the Middle/High School Media Center
    • Middle/High School science room renovations and existing locker room renovations
    • Up-to-date technology in the elementary classrooms
    • New entrance security system and security cameras at all buildings
    • Updated septic system

Will the bond proceeds be sent to LansingNo, all bond proceeds will be used to build the new elementary addition to the middle/high school and renovate the middle/high school Library/Media Center and new security building wide.

How will students benefit

  • Improved learning opportunities for all students       
  • Expansion of fine arts for elementary students
  • Foreign Language opportunities for elementary students
  • Access to updated technology
  • Student ability to socialize with unified peer group
  • Cohesive curriculum for elementary students
  • Unified resources for elementary students
  • Intra-mural sports opportunities
  • Expansion of after-school activities
  • Eliminate bus shuttles between campuses to allow more time to be spent in classroom
  • Improved efficiency
    • Maintenance and operational costs will be reduced
    • Install mechanical systems designed to conserve energy and reduce costs
    • Improved indoor air quality for all students
    • Up to date fire code compliance
    • Americans with Disabilities Act compliance
    • Unified teaching staff K – 12
    • Maintain a solid investment in our community schools

Have current facilities outlived their efficiencies?  YES, due to the expansion of technologies, there is a need for more electrical wiring and we can build a new facility to accommodate the needs of a 21st  century classroom to meet our current projected enrollment.

Can the bond money be used for salaries and benefits?  NO.  According to state law, the proceeds from a bond issue must be audited and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or any employee salaries, benefits or other normal operating expenses.

What is the cost?  The cost of the proposal is $13,730,000. The cost to the owner of a $70,000 home

1.27 Mills

Assessed Value of Home $100,000 $120,000 $140,000 $160,000 $180,000 $200,000
Taxable Value of Home $50,000 $60,000 $70,000 $80,000 $90,000 $100,000
Increase Per Year $64 $76 $89 $102 $114 $127
Increase Per Month $5 $6 $7 $9 $10 $11
Increase Per Day $0.17 $0.20 $0.23 $0.30 $0.33 $0.37

 If you review your recent property tax bill, you will note that you are paying 1.78540 mills for the Lake Michigan College millage, which is more than the 1.27 mills that we are seeking.

Click here to see the open a Tax Calculator to help you see how the bond will affect your tax bill.

Why not renovate the current elementary schools?  It would be too costly to renovate and to continue to operate two elementary schools.  The district is looking for a long-term solution to facility needs and renovations will not provide that.  With a school district of our size, over 90 square miles, a centrally located elementary building is the financially responsible thing to do.

What grades will be housed in the new elementary building?  Preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade and Fifth Grade along with separate rooms for Art, Music, Gym, Computer Lab and Media Center (Library).

Are enrollments declining?  River Valley School District has experienced a decline in enrollment in the past five years.  It does appear, however, that our enrollment will stabilize in the next several years.  We are not building for growth, but rather to take care of the current needs of our 703 students and to become more efficient in operating the schools.

Will the new building/wing have an elementary "feel" to it?  Yes, the new elementary addition will feel like a separate building because it will have an independent entrance, parent pick up and drop off, and a separate bus stop.  Playgrounds will be fenced in and detached from the student parking lot.   The elementary gym will serve as buffer and be locked off from the middle/high school gym.  Security cameras and secured entry ways protect and monitor all students.

Will there be a K-12 office?  NO, the elementary building will maintain a separate administration office and continue the personal relationships between students, parents, and staff at the elementary level.

Will there be one cafeteria?  RV elementary would have a cafeteria separate from the middle/high school.  There is also a separate elementary gym, allowing for gym classes to be held at a regular schedule. 

Would Arrival and Dismissal times change to one bus route K-12? No, we would maintain the independent bus routes and starting and ending times which will allow for separation of our older and younger students.  In order for the district to start one bus route K-12, we would have to purchase 6 new buses, which is another good reason to continue a K-5 bus route and a 6-12 bus route.

What improvements will be made to the existing Middle/High School Building? Remodel and update the Library/Media Center, remodel and update Science Rooms and Locker Rooms and provide a security system for the Middle/High School and renovate the septic system.  Money saved on annual operating cost of the two elementary schools can be used to provide additional renovations to the middle school and high school facility and to provide foreign language to our elementary students.

What will happen to the Chikaming Campus and Three Oaks Campus?  They will be closed and property will be sold.  The Three Oaks Campus does have some deed restrictions, but can be sold as long as it is for a “public purpose”.

If more money is collected than what is needed to make the payment, (because of the rise in taxable property value) where does that extra money go?  No extra money can be collected, only the amount needed to make the scheduled payment on the bond.  As the taxable values of properties rise, the county assessor will adjust the millage rate down.

Is River Valley financially sound?  Yes, since 2009-2010 school year, due to Proposal A, River Valley’s finances are no longer dependent upon student enrollment. 

If we keep losing students, won’t we suffer as a school district and be forced to close?  No, River Valley School District is no longer dependent upon student enrollment for revenue and the neighboring school districts do not have enough room to absorb our current student population of 703 students, in fact, some neighboring schools have less student population than what we currently have.

Are there tax breaks for senior citizens?  YES!  For those 65 or older, depending on your income, there may be no increase in your property taxes!  Through the Homestead Exemption in the Michigan State Income Tax law, depending on the value of your property and your income, you may qualify for absolutely no increase in your property taxes.  Contact your tax consultant for more information.

What is the time frame for completing this project?  Upon approval, the final plans will be developed and the project will be put out for bids; the construction of the new elementary building would start in spring of 2012, with completion in time for the 2013-2014 school year.  The project is managed locally using local contractors wherever possible to help keep the project moving on schedule.

When is the vote? Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When is the last day to register to vote? January 24, 2011

When are the polls open and where do I vote?  The polls of election will open at 7:00 am and close at 8:00 pm.  You would vote at Chikaming, Three Oaks, or Weesaw Township hall.

I will be out of the area on February 22nd, can I still vote?  Yes, you can pick up an absentee ballot from your township clerk, starting January 8, 2011.

How will the ballot read


Shall River Valley School District, Berrien County, Michigan, borrow the sum of not to exceed Thirteen Million Seven Hundred Thirty Thousand Dollars ($13,730,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefor, for the purpose of:

Erecting, furnishing and equipping an elementary school addition to the existing middle/high school; partially remodeling, equipping and re-equipping and furnishing and refurnishing the existing middle/high school; acquiring and installing educational technology to the school building; and developing and improving athletic fields and facilities, playgrounds and the site?

The following is for informational purposes only;

The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2011, under current law, is 1.27 mills ($1.27 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).  The maximum number of years the bonds may be outstanding, exclusive of any refunding, is thirty (30) years.  The estimated simple average annual millage anticipated to be required to retire this bond debt is 0.98 mill ($0.98 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation).

If the school district borrows from the State to pay debt service on the bonds, the school district may be required to continue to levy mills beyond the term of the bonds to repay the State.

(Pursuant to State law, expenditure of bond proceeds must be audited, and the proceeds cannot be used for repair or maintenance costs, teacher, administrator or employee salaries, or other operating expenses.)

What can you do for 35 cents a day35 cents a day will raise $13,730,000 for 1.27 mills…. The estimated millage in 2011 is 1.27 mills ($1.27 on each $1,000) average annual millage .98 mills (98 cents on each $1,000)

What do we owe now on our buildings
Nothing, River Valley has no debt of any kind at this time.  The last bond issue was passed in 1964 to build the Middle/High School building and was paid in full in 1993.  There have been no bonds issued for building in 46 years and no payments from taxpayers in over 17 years.

Would the combining of two elementary schools into one create lay-offs for school staffNo, River Valley would still require the same number of teachers to maintain small class sizes at the elementary and the teacher assistants would still provide for the students that we have enrolled.  We are not changing bus routes, cafeteria, custodial or secretarial staffing.  We already have one principal for River Valley Elementary, a position that would be maintained.  In fact, with savings from combining our two elementary’s into one building we could add staff to teach foreign language.


If you would like to see a larger copy of this site plan (of the proposed site), please click HERE.

The blue shaded are represents the new elementary building and shows how the new elementary gym will connect t the locker room end of the current Middle/High School. The slashed blue shaded area on the opposite side of the building represent updates to the middle/high school media center.

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