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Multiple school bond proposals before mid-Michigan voters next week

Classroom
Pixabay Creative Commons

On May 7, voters will weigh in on ballot proposals for East Lansing, St. Johns, Holt and Waverly schools.

In less than a week, voters will weigh in on bond proposals to fund renovations for multiple school districts in mid-Michigan.

If approved, each millage would fund millions of dollars in improvements to school buildings. Those include plans to install new security cameras and secure entrances, upgrade heating and cooling infrastructure and construct new classrooms, administration buildings and athletics facilities.

Officials in the school districts say the proposals would maintain millages at their current levels without raising taxes.

Voters can fill out an absentee ballot or vote in-person during the special election on May 7.

East Lansing Public Schools

East Lansing Public Schools is asking voters to allow officials to borrow $23.5 million to fund security and infrastructure renovations.

Officials say the bond would allow the district to build new secure entrances as well as upgrades to security cameras and heating and cooling systems at East Lansing High School and MacDonald Middle School.

The bond would also pay for expanded cafeteria seating at the high school and construction of a new central administration building, opening up space at the high school and shifting public meetings to a separate location.

St. Johns Public Schools

At St. Johns Public Schools, voters are being asked to authorize a $92 million bond.

The district's superintendent, Anthony Berthiaume, said the bond would fund construction for new playgrounds at elementary schools, heating and cooling improvements, and investments in academic, athletic and fine arts facilities.

"Our community expects high quality facilities, and this is another avenue as far as what we're trying to do for our students and staff to make sure that we have the best facilities possible moving into the future," he said.

The bond would also allow the district to construct a new early childhood center for preschoolers.

"We're known as a desert childcare area, so we want provide that opportunity for our young families coming into the district or outside of the district to have the opportunity to have childcare and have a central location for our preschoolers," Berthiaume said. "It creates a routine structure that hopefully conveys to the kindergarten through 12th grade level in regards to higher student achievement, more likelihood of graduating."

The district says the upgrades are necessary because many of its current facilities are over 50-years-old and contain their original systems.

Holt Public Schools

Voters who live in the Holt Public School district will decide the outcome of a proposal to borrow $22 million to upgrade decades-old school infrastructure.

The bond would allow the district to renovated plumbing, roofing, windows and heating and cooling systems in school buildings. Two new school busses with added security cameras would also be funded through the proposal.

"Our public has told us that they have a deep desire to ensure that our schools are safe, warm and dry, and that our infrastructure is strong, and that our schools our best positioned overall to help prepare our students for the future," said Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak.

The bond would also pay for other renovations, including a secure space where visitors would wait before entering the building.

Holt Public School's $148 million 2021 bond approval funded upgrades at Midway Early Learning Center, Elliott Elementary School and Wilcox Elementary School.

The district has other projects lined up for Washington Woods Middle School, Sycamore Elementary School, Holt Junior High School, Holt High School and the North Campus and is seeking developers for a new Dimondale Elementary School.

Waverly Community Schools

Those in the Waverly Community Schools district will weigh in on a proposal to allow the district to borrow $8.02 million for renovations.

The bond would build upon $125 million in funding approved in 2021 to pay for school improvements. Those include new classrooms, upgraded heating and cooling systems and a secure entrance for visitors.

School officials say the new bond would help the district address rising construction costs from inflation and labor shortages.

"Without additional funding, we're going to find ourselves short of being able to finish all the projects that we initially intended to," said Waverly Community Schools finance director Evan Nuffer.

“We hope that the community understands that we've been very fiscally responsible and trying to make adjustments to the projects that we're undertaking, and we're just asking for a little bit of help to kind of get us across the finish line."

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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