School bonding can be a complex and obscure subject. Few taxpayers, and indeed few school officials, understand it in much detail. Because schools tend to be infrequent issuers of bonds, few (if any) have formal and comprehensive debt policies.

Even so, Michigan public schools are now issuing debt for capital projects at an unprecedented pace. This intensive need for school construction and repairs is occurring in a time of budget constraints and tax resistance in many districts.

Problems and abuses have arisen in this climate. These problems, several of which have been discussed here, may themselves seem complex and obscure, but they are real. And they can be serious and potentially costly, both in terms of wasted resources and voter trust. Michigan’s public schools owe it to parents, taxpayers, and students to issue and manage debt with the utmost responsibility. That responsibility can start with debt policy.