top of page


Questions? Please email or search for your question and answer below. 

  • How did this proposal come about?
    Okemos Public Schools is committed to a process for ongoing evaluation and monitoring of all school facilities. Continually evaluating and monitoring school facilities helps to protect academic excellence. During the early fall of 2021, working with construction, technology, and architectural specialists, the school district completed an in-depth facility study. The study identified districtwide facility needs and has helped inform the proposed direction of the bond proposal. If interested, the study is available on the district's website at: We also administered multiple surveys and public forums to understand the perceptions of citizens regarding a potential bond. The common feedback from parents and community members was that our facilities were “run-down” and not reflective of a district that values public education. Lastly, this information was brought before a Steering Committee of over 20 Okemos community representatives to build consensus around a final bond scope recommendation. The Board of Education eventually approved this recommendation which led us to the proposal that you see today. Learn more about this process in our Summary of Recommendation document. Our goal was to ensure community engagement in the decision-making process. This proposal reflects a first step in the district’s master plan for facility improvements.
  • What are the main goals of the proposed bond scope?
    Safety and Security – the safety and security of our students and staff is the highest priority. Peace of mind in the classroom allows for a more comfortable learning experience. Projects in the bond include greater control of our building entries. Redesigning our site drop-off and pick-up areas will focus on better traffic flow and creating a separation of parents, buses, and pedestrians. Exceptional Educational Environments – as educational trends continue to change and evolve, our facilities need to be flexible and relevant to best support best practices in teaching and learning. State-of-the-art educational environments that are comfortable will help our students to be prepared for careers of the future. Energy Efficiency / Operational Costs-Upgrades - our boilers, building controls, and mechanical systems will be designed for greater energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption. As we look at replacing significant amounts of our building roofs, additional insulation will be added to comply with current energy codes that would provide a higher-performing building exterior. Energy savings allow the district to divert funding from operational costs toward items that directly impact education.
  • How will the community be involved in design and facility planning following a successful election?
    Upon a successful election, many stakeholders, including staff and students will be engaged to define further and develop the designs of the proposed projects. We also plan to host a community forum and receive input from the community to help shape the potential designs.
  • What is the schedule for completing bond proposal projects?
    A preliminary draft of the implementation of the bond projects looks as follows. This schedule is subject to change as market conditions evolve and further reviews of the district's highest priorities are finalized. The first major scope item is the replacement of Chippewa. The design process for that size of a facility will take a little longer than a year and we anticipate bidding for Chippewa will occur in the spring of 2024. In the meantime, some smaller scope items can be designed and bid sooner. We anticipate scope items like secure vestibules at Edgewood, Bennett Woods, and Central Montessori will occur during the summer of 2023. In addition to the new construction of Chippewa commencing in the summer of 2024, other projects beginning on that timeline will likely include improvements to Hiawatha and the High School. Improvements to the High School will occur in several phases. Secure entry vestibule and main office renovations will likely occur in the summer of 2024. Additions to support a cafeteria and kitchen expansion along with an addition to the performing arts wing will occur starting in the summer of 2026 and will likely be completed by the fall semester of 2027. New high school athletic facilities for tennis, baseball, and softball will be part of the improvements made on the existing Chippewa campus and will likely be ready by the end of 2026. Following the completion of new Chippewa in the summer of 2026, space will be available to temporarily relocate the Cornell population into the original section of Chippewa and allow for the demolition of existing Cornell to commence in the summer of 2026. New Cornell will likely be online in time for the fall semester to begin in 2028. During the summer of 2028, the original section of Chippewa will be done serving as swing space and can be removed for the start of the new Kinawa facility that will connect to and share an auditorium with the new Chippewa facility. It is antincipated that the new Kinawa facility will be online for classes by the fall semester of 2030. Upon completion of new Kinawa the original Kinawa building will see partial demolition of unneeded spaces and the renovation of other areas to welcome district administration, operations, and technology offices. An area within the original Kinawa will also be renovated to receive the Meridian Township Senior Center. Other improvements include renovations to the transportation facility that will likely occur during 2027.
  • Why aren’t all of the projects being completed on the same timeline?
    The amount of work being proposed in the bond proposal is significant. As such, our Construction Management partners believe it to be the best practice to stagger the implementation of the projects. This allows for greater contractor participation and would not overstress the construction market that currently is struggling with labor availability. Greater participation of bidders means greater competition and hopefully better bid results that will benefit the school district.
  • What is the 2022 bond proposal?
    A school bond election is a bond issue used by a public school district, to finance a building project or other capital project. These measures are placed on the ballot by district school boards to be decided by the voting public. With an expected continuation of the current millage rate, the district has a significant opportunity to re-imagine the future, to accommodate long-term enrollment increases and the aging building infrastructure. Projects include: The replacement of three buildings that are beyond their useful lives, including Kinawa and Chippewa Middle Schools, and Cornell Elementary; Building safety enhancements with secure entry vestibules at each school; Pressing needs improvements district-wide, as identified in a district-wide facility assessment; Tennis courts expansion and replacement of the softball and baseball complex and equipment; Performing arts, cafeteria, and kitchen expansion at Okemos High School; and Furniture replacement and technology improvements, where needed district-wide. Read ballot language.
  • What information was provided on the ballot for the 2022 bond program?
    Below is a comprehensive breakdown of the ballot language. Read ballot language.
  • Will my taxes increase from this bond proposal?
    If approved, the ballot proposal will allow the district to sell bonds and generate approximately $275 million with no expected increase over the current millage rate.
  • What is a mill?
    A mill is equal to $1 per every $1,000 of taxable property valuation (not the market value of a home; homeowners can refer to their latest assessment for their home’s taxable value).
  • Why does the district need a bond proposal?
    Due to the size and scale of school buildings, maintenance, updates, and replacement of facilities is costly and typically not possible through the traditional funding received by school districts. Our district has several growing needs requiring large sums of money. A bond proposal is the best approach to making the significant updates and improvements needed at Okemos Public Schools. School districts in the State of Michigan often seek approval for bond proposals every 5-10 years. This allows for significant improvements to occur and keep district facilities current. Prior to 2022, the last bond proposal put before the Okemos Public Schools district voters was a successful election in 2019. The Board of Education and district administration want all Okemos Public Schools facilities to reflect the district’s academic excellence and commitment to public education. Upgraded facilities that support education for our current and future students are essential to achieve this goal.
  • Why is this important now?
    While planning for the 2019 bond, it became clear that if enrollments continued to increase, a comprehensive process would need to be taken to review enrollment trends, neighborhood composition, and potential solutions to create a longer-term plan. Today, the district has a unique opportunity to ask voters for authority to generate significant funds for improvements with no expected change to the current tax rate. The 2019 Bond significantly improved the schools' technology, transportation, and comfort, along with building-focused updates. This next bond focusesn more on the “bricks and mortar” side of creating modern and equitable places for student learning and growth. The district has developed a 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. Some 15% of respondents to the strategic plan survey indicated that “Aging Facilities” was one of the district's greatest challenges in the next five years. In response, the plan identified “Priority 10: Provide high quality and equitable facilities and learning environments for students, staff, and community.”
  • How are Michigan schools funded?
    The state of Michigan provides funding to school districts on a per-pupil basis, based on the cost of educating the average pupil per year. The state of Michigan does not provide funding to address facilities, which are funded exclusively through local property taxes. There are two ways that school districts can raise money for facility improvements: levying sinking funds and selling bonds.
  • What is the difference between a bond proposal and a sinking fund?
    Bond proposals are used to finance major capital projects. The district is able to borrow money upfront and pay back the bond amount over time. Sinking funds are provided on an annual basis to address the immediate needs of school buildings, facilities, and surrounding school sites. This is intended for short-term improvements rather than major renovations and upgrades.
  • How does our current millage rate compare to other districts?
    At 7.0 mills, the current rate is among the sixth lowest level in Ingham County. The district does not intend to change the current tax millage rate with the potential 2022 bond program but rather expects to continue at the current level.
  • How much revenue will be generated by this bond proposal?
    The bond proposal, if approved, will generate approximately $275 million.
  • What has the bond money been used for in the past?
    Updating heating and cooling systems, replacing doors and windows with energy-efficient models, reroofing, parking lot repaving, and new carpets are just a few of the expenditures. A complete listing for 2001 through 2011 is posted on the district’s website,
  • How was the amount of the bond proposal determined?
    The amount of this request was based on projected needs and estimated costs, with the intent of not imposing an additional tax burden on businesses and citizens in the Okemos community.
  • What would happen if the bond proposal was not approved?
    The bond proposal enables the district to continue to make transformational improvements without sacrificing instructional funds. Failure to approve the bond proposal would mean that the district would have to delay improvements and that any emergency repairs to address potential safety issues at district facilities would have to be paid for with general operating funds that would otherwise go to support educational programs for students.
  • Why does the district say no “expected” tax increase? What is going on here?
    The district wishes to be honest and transparent with our community regarding all potential outcomes from the bond proposal, even if they are unlikely or rare. The bond proposal authorizes the district to borrow $275 million dollars. Taxes collected to pay for the bond are based on property values (taxable value not SEV). If property values increase more than expected than fewer mills from what is anticipated may be needed to fund the bond. In the rare occurrence that property values decrease then additional mills may be needed to fund the bond.
  • What will the future of Cornell Elementary be?
    The current Cornell Elementary building is overcrowded and nearing the end of its useful life. The existing building will be demolished and a new two-story elementary building will be constructed on its current site with modern learning spaces, separate parent and bus drop-off loops, and new playground equipment. The decision to rebuild Cornell on its current site was approved by the Board of Education in May 2022.
  • What will happen to the Powell Road site?
    The Powell Road site will remain available for future school district improvements.
  • Where will Cornell Elementary students go during the construction process?
    In order to safely and efficiently construct a new elementary building on the Cornell campus, students would need to be relocated during demolition and construction. Students would be temporarily moved to a portion of Chippewa Middle School prior to its demolition.
  • Will redistricting be required with the replacement of Cornell Elementary?
    Not at this time. A priority of our 2022 bond program planning was to minimize change for our students and community. The current grade level configurations and districting will remain the same.
  • What will the future of Kinawa and Chippewa Middle Schools be?
    Kinawa and Chippewa Middle Schools will be replaced with two connected buildings on the Chippewa site. Fifth through sixth grade and seventh through eighth grade will remain separate with dedicated parent and bus drop-off loops yet will share some amenities such as a state-of-the-art auditorium. Additional features will include outdoor learning spaces and natural pathways throughout the site. A portion of the current Chippewa Middle School will be renovated and used as part of the new shared space between the new middle schools. Significant additions will be made to construct the two schools. The current Kinawa Middle School will be renovated and transformed into the new district operations and services building. This project reuses areas which were recently improved and will be the last project completed in the multi-phase bond program.
  • What is flexible learning furniture?
    Flexible learning furniture is unlike traditional school furniture, as it is designed to be easily moved, collapsed, or repositioned to meet the specific instructional needs of a student or lesson. This furniture is designed to fit together in multiple formations, which can quickly change the layout of the classroom.
  • What is the proposed Hiawatha Bus Loop project?
    The proposed Hiawatha Bus Loop project is a portion of upgrades for Hiawatha Elementary School outlined in the 2022 Bond. The project aims to: Increase the safety of those going to and from school and drivers passing by the school during drop-off and pick-up times. Separate the car line and bus loop. The bus loop will enter and exit off of Summergate Lane and the car drop-off and pick-up will enter and exit off of Fairhills Drive. Decrease congestion on site. Reduce backup on adjacent roads. Provide additional parking during special events. Increase access for emergency response vehicles. Current design proposal:
  • Where is funding for the proposed project coming from?
    The proposed project is a result of critical needs identified from building assessments and community input recognized from the pre-bond work. The bond was passed by the community in 2022.
  • What are the district’s goals/criteria for the redesign?
    District goals for the redesigned loop include: Separation of car line and bus loop. Decrease congestion on site. Reduce backup on adjacent roads. Increase access for emergency response. Provide additional parking during special school events. Other considerations include: Budget (Stewards of taxpayer dollars) Environmental impacts (trees, wetlands, etc) on campus.
  • Why can’t the bus loop stay how it is?
    Like many school carlines, our current design for school access was not made to accommodate today’s vehicle volume. Current conditions are congested as buses and cars use the same entry and exit drives, causing backup onto adjacent roads. A single access point for emergency vehicles and congestion during special school events adds to the safety concerns. Separating the bus loop from the car loop will increase the safety of students and has been the approach to carline improvements district wide. Current Bus Loop:
  • How long does the typical car line take in the morning and afternoons at Hiawatha?
    During the traffic study by the Ingham County Road Department in early November, the car line has a peak 15-minute interval in the morning and afternoons, which coincides with the typical estimate from administration.
  • How many additional cars can be stacked on the district property with the new project?
    The current car line allows 30 cars to “stack” or wait for student drop-off or pick-up. The new project doubles that amount, allowing 60 cars to wait. The current car line can result in a backup of traffic onto Jolly Road, sometimes as many as twenty cars deep. The new design is projected to eliminate traffic backup on Jolly Road.
  • What other designs were considered for the proposed project?
    Please attend the community meeting on January 10 where our construction partners will be able to show the different designs considered during the planning process, factors that influence those designs, and why the proposed design is recommended. Designs considered: Triple stack existing carline Entrance off Jolly Road Entrance off Fairhills near Jolly Entrance of Fairhills and Elk Lane (recommended) In short: The proposed entrance off Fairhills and Elk Lane best met all of the district and Ingham County Road Commission’s requirements. An entrance off Jolly Road was not feasible as it did not meet Ingham County Road Department requirements, impacted current wetlands and had budget concerns. An additional entrance off of Fairhills closer to Jolly was considered, but did not align with current intersections in the neighborhood. Triple stacking was not preferred as it did not meet the district’s goals.
  • What other factors were considered when designing the carline?
    When designing this proposed project, Okemos and design engineers considered several different factors. The design team developed a plan to allow “stacking space” for the cars to be able to line up and wait in the safest way. Designers also worked to be considerate of the environmental wetlands and impacts to current trees. While removing some trees is unavoidable with the plan, the budget allows for those trees to be replaced. The district also wanted to ensure the design would provide the best use of taxpayer money, a guiding principle from the Board of Education, as this project is being paid for by the bond approved by the community in November of 2022.
  • Can you turn left onto fairhills when leaving the school in this design?
    Yes, you can turn left onto Fairhills.
  • Was a traffic study conducted before designing the new proposed bus loop?
    A traffic study was conducted by the Ingham County Road Department by RS Engineering in the fall. In that study, a peak 15-minute interval was observed on Thursday, November 9, 2023 between 8:30am and 8:45am. The school driveway on Summergate Lane was accessed by a total of 125 vehicles (109 northbound right, 16 southbound left). This volume likely exceeds the capacity of the existing drop off loop, which provides total storage for an estimated 35-45 vehicles. The road commission did not recommend any additional traffic studies for the project.
  • What concerns did the Ingham County Road Department note in their evaluation of the current site and recommendations for improvements?
    The Ingham County Road Department outlined concerns they observed during a traffic study in a letter to the district. Those concerns include: The current design of the school access was not intended for today’s vehicle volume. The Ingham County Road Department encourages school districts to provide adequate vehicle storage on school property in order to maintain the safe and efficient movement of vehicles and pedestrians within the public right of way. In that study, a peak 15-minute interval was observed on Thursday, November 9, 2023 between 8:30am and 8:45am where the school driveway on Summergate Kane was accessed by a total of 125 vehicles (109 northbound right, 16 southbound left). This volume likely exceeds the capacity of the existing drop off loop, which provides total storage for an estimated 35-45 vehicles. The public right of way functioning as a vehicle queue is particularly problematic at Summergate Lane due to the fact that the school driveway and Jolly Road are only separated by approximately 250 feet, causing traffic to back up onto Jolly Road. The issue is significant enough that in 2020, the Road Department constructed a right turn lane for Summergate Lane in an attempt to address the vehicle queue on Jolly Road. Even with the construction of the right turn lane, the vehicle storage for school traffic continues to be an issue at this existing location.
  • Who is responsible for traffic on Jolly and Fairhills Roads?
    The Ingham County Road Commission is responsible for traffic on these roads. The district has followed their recommendations for the proposed project.
  • Why didn’t Okemos or engineers consider a roundabout on Jolly Road, a stoplight or sight lines when designing the bus loop?
    The district and engineers engaged with the Ingham County Road Department to develop the proposed carline improvements. The school district’s authority is on district property and not public roads. Any improvements on district property that impact the surrounding roads must meet the Ingham County Road Department’s requirements. The Ingham County Road Department provided a letter to the district outlining their traffic study results, and why this proposed design fits their criteria. They provided this information in favor of the project: Due to the reduction of vehicle queues on public roads and improved safety measures, the Road Department supports the Okemos Public School’s proposal to create a driveway access point on Fairhills Drive at Elk Lane. As previously stated, the Ingham County Road Department encourages Okemos Public Schools to provide adequate storage on school property in order to maintain the safe and efficient movement of vehicles within the public right of way. Jolly Road improvements were not recommended as the proposed plan met the ICRD requirements. The Ingham County Road Department outlined why a Jolly Road entrance wasn’t safe: One alternative considered was for the new driveway to be located on Jolly Road between Summergate Lane and Fairhills Drive; however, the geometrics of the road prevent proper sight distance from being achieved. For safety reasons, this option has been eliminated from consideration.
  • Can the new driveway be on Jolly Road between Summergate Lane and Fairhills Drive?
    While this was one of the alternatives considered, it was ultimately decided against. The Ingham County Road Department outlines why this option wasn’t safe: One alternative considered was for the new driveway to be located on Jolly Road between Summergate Lane and Fairhills Drive; however, the geometrics of the road prevent proper sight distance from being achieved. For safety reasons, this option has been eliminated from consideration.
  • Can Hiawatha traffic go directly into Hiawatha via one lane, in and out one lane from Jolly Road as opposed to traffic lined up on Fairhills Road?
    Direct access to Hiawatha from Jolly Road was not recommended by our design/engineering team and was prohibitive from the Ingham County Road Department. The Ingham County Road Department outlines why this option wasn’t safe: One alternative considered was for the new driveway to be located on Jolly Road between Summergate Lane and Fairhills Drive; however, the geometrics of the road prevent proper sight distance from being achieved. For safety reasons, this option has been eliminated from consideration. Furthermore, the project's civil engineer provided this additional information regarding a drive directly off Jolly Road: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASHTO) Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets recommends local authorities adopt access management policies for driveway locations and design. The Ingham County Access and Management policies require driveways to meet adequate “Intersection Sight Distances” and “Spacing” requirements. Desktop review of potential access points off of Jolly Rd. identified a single location where “Intersection Sight Distances” and “Spacing” requirements could potentially be met. However, given the location of the potential access point and the Ingham County Access Management requirements the access point would be cost prohibitive and the safety concerns would remain. And the following information regarding the intersection at Fairhills Drive and Jolly Road: Intersection safety is required to meet American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official (AASHTO) policies. According to the AASHTO Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, the intersection of Fairhills Dr. and Jolly Rd. meets the safety requirements for adequate “Intersection Sight Distances”.
  • Is the decision to add a road off of Fairhills final or is there going to be a vote?
    No decision has been made. Our current plan to add an entrance to Hiawatha from Fairhills is going through a review process to inform the community and then have action considered. A community forum will be held on January 10th to ensure all residents have a chance to review the plans in more detail, options that were explored by the design team, and to ask questions and provide feedback. If the project is to be finished before school starts in the fall of 2024, the Board of Education would have to make a decision about moving forward with the current plans by mid-January.
  • Will a School Zone speed limit be created on Jolly Road?
    Okemos officials have started the process of working with the Ingham County Road Department to investigate making this a school zone.
  • Will the walkway from Fairhills to Hiawatha Elementary be repaved?
    Current plans include improving the walkway from Fairhills as part of the carline bid package. The district will evaluate where the bids for both projects come in after that process is completed but understands the walkway is in need of improvements.
  • Will the trees being cut down be replaced?
    While the project aims to maintain as much green as possible, some trees will have to be cut down. The goal is to keep as many in place as possible. Once the project is complete, trees will be replanted.
  • When and where can you get questions answered and voice concerns?
    A community forum will be held on January 10 to ensure all residents have a chance to review the plans in more detail, options that were explored by the design team, and to ask questions and provide feedback. The Hiawatha carline plan has been developed with the support of district staff and a team of design and engineering experts. Multiple options were explored and the current plan was recommended to most effectively address the concerns of the district and Ingham County Road Department.
  • As of January 9, what are the community feedback themes?
    Increased traffic On Fairfills Dr. and in the subdivision (600 cars) Cars driving through the neighborhood between Dobie Rd. and school Impacts to: Residents, especially those near the entrance to Fairhills Cars, congestions, headlights, pollution (noise, fumes) Park-like, quiet feel of neighborhood Green space at the school, playground Safety Concerns: Students walking to school: crosswalks, paved path to school Sight lines from Jolly Rd. to Fairhills Turning into and out of Jolly Rd./Fairhills intersection (dangerous)
  • As of January 9, what were the potential solutions?
    Create an entrance off of Jolly Road Add a traffic light or roundabout at intersection Use Summergate Drive to not impact homes Extend length of the current loop Increase bussing of students Create official “school zones” with Ingham County Road Department and Meridian Township in the area Stop development of the idea, drawbacks outweigh the benefits Pause and see if we can develop a mutually agreeable solution together
  • What is going to happen on January 16?
    Superintendent Hood will summarize the community feedback and proposed changes for the Board to discuss. A decision regarding the proposal has not been made yet. Actions from the Board will be determined at the meeting and could include moving forward with the proposal and not moving forward with the proposal, or other options as directed by the Board. It is a special meeting of the Board and will include public comment.
  • Why weren’t the neighbors more involved in the planning and design phase of the revised car and bus loop?
    The district is seeking neighborhood feedback in the process before any actions are taken to move forward with the proposed projects. Community provided feedback during meetings on December 5th and January 10th, in addition to multiple Board meetings and via email or letter.
  • Why wasn’t Spring Lake invited to the first Q and A?
    The district attempted to contact the homeowners associations prior to the meeting. Admittedly, we did not know there were two homeowners associations at that time and only one was contacted. Our intentions to invite our community members from Hiawatha-area homeowner associations fell short and had the understandable outcomes of frustration and mistrust. We hope to rebuild that trust by hosting a second community forum on January 10.
  • Where can I learn about the upcoming community forum?
    We invited families and community members through our listserv. The Board was made aware of the two homeowners associations. Both will be notified and should send out notification to residents. The district will also be mailing letters to residents in the area. You can also stay up to date here, on the bond website, or sign up for community information emails.
  • Where can we find the Hiawatha Car Line meeting from 12/5/2023?
  • Will there be crosswalks added to the area around the school?
    If the proposed plan is approved, the district will work with the Township and the Ingham County Road Department to establish a school zone and appropriate cross walks to access the school grounds safely.
  • Driving past the school during hours the front parking lot seems very full. Are these teachers? If so, wouldn’t increasing staff parking in the rear make for more parent parking in front?
    Both the back and front lots are currently utilized by staff. Proposed car and bus line changes add parking for special events at the school that will reduce the number of cars parking in the neighborhood, an issue brought forth from the community.
  • Could the minimum distance to bus students to school be reduced to help alleviate the number of cars at the carline?
    Yes. Board policy 3541 establishes the distance for district provided bussing, which is currently 1.5 miles. Should the Board make any changes, additional factors should be considered that include the number of buses, finding additional drivers and to gauge interest from the community on who would access the bus to see if that would alleviate the concerns.
  • What is the ridership on the buses for Hiawatha?
    Transportation counts in October over five days indicated that 153 students used the bus in the AM out of 208 eligible riders with afternoon routes typically being fuller. The district estimated we have more than 75% of eligible Hiawatha riders using the bus.
bottom of page