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Published: Monday, 1/20/2014

Bedford school board has $70M plan to ‘reinvent’ the district

New elementary, upgrades to junior, senior highs listed


TEMPERANCE — The Bedford Public Schools will be getting a new elementary school and myriad other building upgrades if voters approve a $70 million plan the board of education hopes to place on the May 6 ballot.

Last week, the board heard from its real estate consultants that its plan to “reinvent” the district would cost the owner of a $170,000 home — the approximate average value for the district — an additional $170 per year, a net new cost held down by the fact that other district taxes expire this year: 1.82 mills used to service Monroe Road Elementary School construction bonds, which are being retired, and the 0.5-mill sinking fund used for building repairs.

The board then voted unanimously to submit its plan, which would raise funds by the sale of bonds, to the Michigan Department of Treasury for formal approval. It plans to hold a special meeting Feb. 20, five days before the filing deadline with the Monroe County clerk, to vote on sending the tax request to the electorate in May, and will make its case to the taxpayers at public forums.

The state already has given the district a preliminary nod, but it could require changes once it receives the formal request for approval of the ambitious plan, which the board preferred to a more modest course of action that would have addressed only the critical needs of its aging buildings. In addition to its real estate consultant, Plante Moran CRESA LLC, the board also has retained a bond counsel and financial adviser, whose fees would be paid from the bond sale’s proceeds.

The board’s plan envisions spending $18 million for the new elementary school, to be built on a yet-to-be-chosen site, that would be a replica of Monroe Road Elementary.

Douglas Road and Jackman Road elementary schools would be demolished at a cost of $414,000 and $436,000, respectively, and the former Smith Road Elementary School, which closed as a school building in 2011, would receive $6.4 million in upgrades, including the addition of four classrooms, a new roof and new windows, and return to service. Temperance Road Elementary, which closed last year, also would be demolished, at a cost of $372,000.

The high school would be the single biggest recipient of improvements — $27 million worth — under the plan. It would be expanded by 20,600 square feet and receive a new roof, windows, exterior doors, and mechanical and electrical upgrades. The auditorium would get an addition and new stage, and the old gym’s floor would be refinished, among many improvements.

The plan would spend $12 million on improvements at the junior high. The building would gain a 5,500-square-foot addition and the portable classrooms would be demolished. The gym would receive new bleachers and lockers. The school would continue to house sixth graders, along with seventh and eighth graders.

Monroe Road Elementary’s improvements, with a price tag of $1 million, would include a reconfigured front entrance and security upgrades. The plan also includes improvements for the district’s administration and transportation/​maintenance buildings.

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