By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion Community Schools has been touting their “no expected tax rate increase” $160 million bond proposal for some time now, saying the bond would be used to address “critical needs” in the district.
School board members, such as President Scott Taylor, have been vocal in stating that GMB, the architects who have been working with the district, had originally identified $300 million worth of repairs and upgrades, but the board decided to cut the bond down to $160 million to avoid any expected increase in taxes.
The 10-year bond proposal is on the Nov. 6 general election ballot and would maintain the current bond rate of 7.49 mills.
The LOCS board of education has urged residents and voters to do their own research using information that is, as board secretary Dana Mermell puts it, “correct and coming from a reliable source such as the school website.”
The full 90-page bond plan can be found on the district’s website at LOCSBond.org. The plan breaks down costs of every school building in the district, an entire plan that will leave no LOCS building untouched, even Moose Tree Nature Center.
The education level with the most buildings in the district is elementary education.
After the close of Pine Tree, Lake Orion now has six elementary schools in the district: Blanche Sims, Carpenter, Stadium Drive, Paint Creek, Webber and Orion Oaks.
The combined total of the elementary schools is projected at $66,650,750 – more than a third of the $160 million proposed bond.
Most of the elementary schools (with the exception of Webber and Blanche Sims) each have a calculated total between $5 million and $7 million. The upgrades for each of these facilities (Carpenter, Stadium Drive, Paint Creek and Orion Oaks) would include creating a secure entry addition and remodeling, building security improvements, LED lighting and electrical improvements, interior finishes upgrades, window replacement, replace ceilings, develop STEM lab (which itself is $396,000 per building) , media center upgrades, code upgrades, add instructional support areas and furnish and install equipment.
As for Blanche Sims, the district calculates a total of $25,693,321 that would be used to demolish the existing school building and completely rebuild the facility, with upgrades, further back on the property than its current location.
Webber Elementary has a projected cost of $15,821,941 that would be used for the same upgrades Carpenter, Stadium Drive, Paint Creek and Orion Oaks receive, as well as the demolition and rebuilding of the east wing (recreating 16 new classrooms) and playground.
The total cost Carpenter, Stadium Drive, Paint Creek and Orion Oaks combined is calculated at $25,135,488, which is $557,833 less than the entire total of just Blanche Sims.
The two Elementary schools with the biggest price tag, Blanche Sims and Webber, combined would be a total of $41,515,262 – $27,895,946 more than the combined total of the next highest priced elementary schools, Orion Oaks and Carpenter.
Total proposed cost of renovations at each elementary:
Orion Oaks: $6,957,035
Paint Creek: $5,584,248
Stadium Drive: $5,931,560
Blanche Sims: $25,693,321