TEMPERANCE — Voters in the Bedford School District will go to the polls May 6 to decide on raising taxes to demolish schools, build an elementary school, and extensively upgrade other buildings.
The Board of Education gave its 5-0 approval Thursday to a plan to raise $70.35 million through the sale of bonds, debt that would be serviced over 30 years with the addition of a 4.37-mill tax. Members Ron Koch and Wayne Meehean were absent.
Because the district has two current taxes expiring this year — 1.82 mills used to retire Monroe Road Elementary School construction bonds, and 0.5 mills for its sinking fund for building repairs — the net new tax would be 2.05 mills. The owner of a $175,000 home would pay an additional $179.40 annually, according to figures provided by the district.
The board has been studying options for dealing with its aging facilities and settled on two: fix some of the critical needs, or adopt a more costly, long-term improvement plan that would see the demolition of Douglas Road and Jackman Road elementary schools and of the former Temperance Road Elementary, which closed in June.
The board envisions building a new elementary school at a yet-to-be-chosen location. The former Smith Road Elementary, which closed as a school building in 2011, would be renovated with the addition of four classrooms and returned to service, and Monroe Road Elementary would get a reconfigured kindergarten wing and a redesigned main entrance.
Improvements to the junior high would include the addition of four classrooms and removal of the portable classrooms, a new, safer entry, renovations to the band/choir room, and new instruments.
The high school would benefit from a renovated auditorium, including a new stage and lobby, as well as a band, drama, and gym storage addition. The district also would replace buses and furniture.
Board member Tim Brakel emphasized that the easy path would be to address the critical needs only. “I’m glad we are not kicking the can down the road,” he said.
His colleague, Lisa Beins-McCaig, said, “It’s really about shaping the future for 30 years to come.”
Collection of the new tax would not begin until January. The project would be done in phases over four years, with construction starting in the summer of 2015.
Bedford has been cutting costs to eliminate a persistent operating deficit and expects to finish this school year with a small surplus, three years ahead of schedule. The Michigan Department of Treasury approved the board’s facilities plan Wednesday, which means the district will enjoy the state’s investment-grade bond rating.
Contact Carl Ryan at: email@example.com or 419-724-6095.
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