SPS Board Of Education Presents Modified Renovation Plans Tied To Upcoming Bond Request
The latest Saugatuck Public Schools Board’s proposal to remodel and improve the district’s facilities was presented to the public on Monday night.
The $40 million renovation plan is a scaled-down version of the initial $50.7-million bond request that voters rejected - 1,005 no votes to 719 yes votes - earlier this year on May 8. However, voters did approve extending the school’s 0.5-mill sinking fund levy for five years.
Major changes from the May bond proposal includes the scrapping of the idea for a second-story design at the high school building and more emphasis on expanding the elementary sizes.
The revised plan draws from results of an August survey of more than 375 parents as well as community members, faculty, staff and students, said district officials. Those results are available at the saugatuckpublicschools.com under “bond info.”
“We will be asking for 6/10 less of the total debt millage,” SPS Superintendent Dr. Tim Travis told The Local Observer, stressing “total debt millage,” and how it was reduced from 4.7 mills to 4.16 mills.
Some local taxpayers—including local realtor Diana Decker at Monday’s presentation—have raised questions about the millage and whether or not the district could do fine by merely upgrading those systems that need improvements, i.e., plumbing, heating, electrical, ventilation, without the need for major renovations.
Others find problematic that 1/3 of the student body at the SPS district are kids from outside the jurisdiction.
To this, Travis said that it was important to keep in mind that the money the district gets from the state per student head is a different pot of money than the bond proposal.
“Everyone in the state of Michigan pays operational school taxes regardless where students go to school. It really is a win-win because we get more funding to provide better services and facilities for our kids as well as those kids that choose to come here from other jurisdictions,” said Travis.
Despite it being a modified version, the core of much of the original ideas the education board had remain.
Besides safety and security upgrades (secure entrances, improved pick-up/drop-off circulation, cameras) new buses; new plumbing, heating, electrical, ventilation, roofing; and paving; district officials also envision social and physical spaces in line with contemporary, 21st-century currents about educational architecture.
This translates, say school board members, better daylight and outside views, outdoor learning spaces and modifying hallways into collaborative learning spaces.
Funding would also create a new middle/high school band suite, a dedicated middle school art room, a new science lab space and spaces for new technology and robotics.