LOCS school board discusses future finances, bond projects and priorities if the bond does not pass

Megan Kelley

Review Writer

Wednesday’s Lake Orion school board workshop had a long agenda planned for discussion.

Though the agenda only had a single line dedicated to the bond it proved to be the biggest issue the board wanted to discuss.

On Nov. 6, voters will be asked to decide on a proposed 10-year, $160 million school bond to finance capital improvement projects, technology and safety/security features for the district.

Beginning with a lengthy discussion of what a multipurpose facility at Lake Orion High School would entail, Treasurer Jim Weidman lead the discussion, citing two indoor training facilities – Oakland University’s and a Wisconsin high school’s, which had recently built a facility for about $5.5 million.

The board discussed the idea of creating a similar facility at the high school that would be capable of being used as multipurpose room as well as STEM space.

Combining these facilities (that were budgeted separately in the final bond proposal) would cost the district about $4.7 million for the creation of this addition.

What this facility would look like is still unclear, as the board has not reached the design phase of this project just yet.

The board ended the discussion by stating, “upon the passage of the bond the board will consider various designs of all facilities.”

Quite a bit of time was then spent on discussing the possibility of a failure. What does the district do if the bond does not pass?

Board members were sure to point out that should the bond fail, the district still has “critical needs” that need to be addressed and were quick to highlight the parts of the bond they felt were most important to the district – security and technology.

Shortly after prioritizing these two aspects the board began to list programs that would possibly need to be cut or limited to provide the district with the minimum, “essential”, security and technology upgrades without the bond.

This list included but was not limited to: cutting the current middle school team teaching concept, staff reductions, increased class sizes, privatize or eliminate transportation and cutting sports and band programs.

Trustee Nate Butki, however, had other ideas of what was necessary if the bond fails in the upcoming vote.

Butki was more concerned with rethinking the bond, saying that the idea that things would have to be cut right away (the first year) upon a failed bond proposal is untrue, and was more interested in finding the key points of the proposal and removing parts that were less favorable to the voters.

It was unclear, should the bond not pass, whether the board would move forward with another bond proposal and the meeting adjourned with members agreeing to inform voters of the current bond proposal as a team.

Also at the meeting:

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Rick Arnett took the floor to announce the four new teachers in the district: Alexander Schall (Lake Orion High School, math), William Conley (Scripps Middle School, special education), Lauren Miller (Stadium Drive Elementary, Kindergarten) and Nicholas Schultz (Lake Orion High School, computer programming).

Arnett also voiced his concerns over the shortage of hourly workers in the district, specifically the transportation workers.

He spoke with the board about informing the parents of the district that late buses are due to the lack of drivers, making for on-the-fly transportation decisions daily. Moving forward, the long-term fix would probably be fewer, but longer, routes.

The board as a whole moved on to discuss community issues with the high school stadium field and track that was recently replaced using sinking fund money.

The board was clear in stating that these updates were necessary. The field, which is made of Astroturf, and the running track were both deemed unsafe for use.

The Astroturf itself was five years over its warranty and generated a large concern because it was no longer holding rubber, creating certain health hazards. While the track alone posed multiple trip hazards.

“You don’t buy your house and never maintain it,” board Secretary Dana Mermell said.

 

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