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Published: Thursday, 8/21/2003

Officials explain improvement needs

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The constant need to maintain older buildings and to provide computers for the offices and the students of Ottawa Hills schools combine to make it necessary to replace a permanent improvement levy that is expiring this year, school officials said.

The board of education recently decided to seek a 1.5-mill levy for permanent improvements to replace a 1.0-mill levy, which will expire at the end of this year.

Superintendent Gail Mirrow said there is always work to do with renovations to the buildings and computers need periodic upgrades and eventual replacement.

The schools' technology hardware expenses for the current fiscal year will be slightly more than $184,000, Dr. Mirrow said.

Included in the cost is the upgrade or replacement of 71 classroom computers, equipment for the elementary foreign language classroom and the library, computers and printers for the sixth-grade classrooms, and other hardware. About $92,000 in permanent improvement funds will be used, with almost $78,000 coming from parent support groups, and another $15,000 from a state grant.

For the coming school year, Dr. Mirrow pointed to charts, which show specific needs for the district offices, the junior and senior high school and the elementary grades. Each item has been given a priority with a total projected to be more than $250,000.

Dr. Mirrow said the upgrades and new technological equipment purchases, “are not necessarily state-of-the-art, be we have to be certain the students have the tools that are needed.''

She also noted that the technology resources of the schools are shared with the community particularly in classes offered to senior citizens who live in the village.

Bill Renwand, an Ottawa Hills teacher who instructs the seniors, said that fall and spring programs are offered and that there are usually about 20 students for the eight-session classes.

Willis Day, III, president of the board, noted that high school students usually assist as instructors in the classes.

He noted that from the school system going about its daily work, to classes for older residents, to the expectations of colleges concerning computer literacy, Ottawa Hills like all other schools systems has to stay up-to-date.

The expiring 1.0–mill levy now generates the equivalent of .86 mills, or about $144,000. A replacement 1.0-mill levy would result in income for the schools of slightly more than $165,000.

Mr. Day said board determined that the schools will need the approximately $250,000 that would be generated by passage of the 1.5-mill levy that will be on November's ballot.

If passed, the owner of a $250,000 home will pay about $115.

Dr. Mirrow said income from the levy would not necessarily be limited to expenditures for technology, but that the school system continues to maintain its buildings with the revenue as well.



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