LOCS administrators, board discuss bond construction project plans

$22 million ‘not enough’ to finish original intent of projects, officials say

By Joseph Goral
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — The Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education discussed construction work to be completed on several buildings as part of the district’s bond projects during a work session this month.
The work was discussed while reviewing year two of LOCS’s current strategic plan.
While nothing was finalized, the projects would take place this year, including remodeling and site work at Oakview and Waldon middle schools, if approved. In 2025, Paint Creek Elementary would receive renovations and its own STEM space, while Lake Orion High School would receive a new multipurpose space, called an AUX gym, a concession area with restrooms and storage, new stadium team rooms and a STEM space.
The order of importance for the high school projects is the AUX gym as the most important, the team rooms second, the STEM space third and the concessions and bathroom update as last priority, according to district officials.
“There’s lots of other (smaller projects) in there, but those are the four big projects that the committee has been looking at,” said Heidi Mercer, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.
Currently, the AUX gym is being proposed to be built on the location of a parking lot on the side of the high school building, near the pool.
Plans for the gym stopped there as of May 8, but, according to Mercer, there were conversations about potentially needing bleachers in the AUX gym to be able to use it for games.
The team rooms plan would be to build the rooms at the north end of the football field. Both the home and away teams will have their own rooms, according to the plans. The rooms will contain bathrooms, storage space, a trainer’s office, a mechanical space and an area for game officials.
Other construction projects within the team room project may also be necessary, including a new driveway, walkway and retaining walls. A new scoreboard would also be needed as the rooms would be built where the board is now, Mercer said.
The STEM space would be an addition to the high school specific to STEM.
“Art is also there, so there might be some switching of some classrooms, but essentially it’s all right there where you could have their shop” and their classrooms in the same area, according to Mercer. “If we built it just right and big enough we could have potential competitions.”
LOCS has around $22 million to finish the construction projects, which is not enough to finish the original intent of projects, according to Andrea Curtis, assistant superintendent of business and finance. That includes around $18.4 million in the sinking fund for next year and the following year, and around $3.7 million to help finish some of the projects.
This situation began during the COVID-19 pandemic, created higher demand for workers, higher prices for products and more. Superintendent Ben Kirby said this led some communities to take additional bonds to cover the impact.
“This isn’t something that is just unique to Lake Orion,” Kirby said. “But this is really the bottom line as far as what we have left to do those projects.”
In 2018, voters passed a $160 million bond request for the school district to remodel and upgrade facilities, build a new elementary school and add other enhancements to schools. The bond work is planned over three phases.
The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the district Administration Building, 315 N. Lapeer Rd.
The school board meets regularly on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

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