By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion’s Board of Education convened on Feb. 27 for their first workshop meeting of 2019. This was also the first workshop meeting since the bond had passed and was sure to be packed with new information regarding bond progress.
Superintendent Marion Ginopolis began the bond discussion by announcing that the district had received their bond money that day, which means that the district can move forward on their bond projects.
While series one of the bond projects includes work on several buildings throughout the district, the bond design teams have been formed for Webber Elementary, Carpenter Elementary, Orion Oaks Elementary and the new Early Childhood Center.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Heidi Mercer was joined by Operations Director Wes Goodman to give the board an update on these committees.
These groups have met two times now and, according to Mercer, have been working hard and have come up with some good ideas for their respective building projects.
The Early Childhood Center design team has been spending time visiting other early childhood centers in the area in order to get an idea of what Lake Orion would like to do with theirs, she said.
The Orion Oaks design team has restructured the original plan for the building slightly.
While the original plan was for additional ASD (autism spectrum disorder) rooms to be added, the plan is now looking more like these ASD classrooms would replace one of the school’s “neighborhoods” and new general education classrooms would be built.
The Webber design team has recommended moving their current media center from the middle of the building to what is currently the cafeteria.
The Carpenter design team has a little bit more to work with — the district is currently in the process of purchasing land north of the building in order to construct a more efficient bus drop off. The current bus drop off would be repurposed as the parent drop off.
Carpenter’s biggest challenge is the building’s need for more office space, said Mercer. The current main office is set to remain where it is and not be moved to the north end of the building where the bus drop off would be located.
All of these projects and decisions are still subject to change as there is no scheduled “groundbreaking” until 2020, according to Goodman.
The next design teams that will be meeting are the STEM group and the furniture committee.
Because of the bulk of work coming next year, the sinking fund projects for this year are going to be much lighter than last year, said Goodman.
This includes some paving and concrete work for lot safety and new carpet on the lower level of the high school.
The financing of all upcoming projects will be done with either bond money or sinking fund money, including the land purchase north of Carpenter Elementary.
The land purchase will be done with sinking fund money.
“When the sinking fund was proposed…there was legislation going on in the state that was essentially changing the scope of what you can use the sinking fund for. So our 10-year plan cuts down some of the things that we were supposed to be allowed to do…so there are some projects in that 10-year plan that we can’t legally use our sinking fund money for, which frees up funding. So, in terms of everything in the original plan what we can legally do, what we want, it is being done,” Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald assured the board.
Treasurer Jim Weidman expanded by saying, “For logistical reasons we could not put a land purchase in the bond to speculate in public that we were interesting in buying this property. And in doing so we moved things from the sinking fund to the bond and we’re moving something that would have been in the bond into the sinking fund. So, essentially, it’s a wash.”
According to Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Rick Arnett, when the district had initially gone through the sinking fund process they believed that technology would be allowed to be purchased using that money. However, legislation has passed through the state, which changed that, and now technology can no longer be covered in the sinking fund.
“Every project that is listed, that we can legally do will be done…and then some, because we have reassigned funding,” said Fitzgerald.
Also in the meeting:
• Oakview Middle School is the first school in the district to have fully switched to LED lighting. Once the entire district has their LED lights installed, the district is expected to see $200,000 in electrical savings a year, according to Fitzgerald.
• The board approved the bid for the purchase of two transportation lifts from Snap-on Industrial for $96,451.74. The original bond budgeted for the lifts was $180,000.
• The board also approved several bids for a network infrastructure replacement project. These bids went to Delta Network Solution, Coast to Coast and Presidio. The total cost is set not to exceed $1,209,432.25.
• Dustin Alcock and Parker Galbraith from CERC gave a presentation overview on the new board member iPads. They discussed setting up times to meet individually with board members to switch their current iPad contents on to a new one.
• Communications Director Mark Snyder informed the board that the district would be partnering up with the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce, Orion Township Public Library and the Lake Orion Downtown Development Authority to create an “Orion Living” magazine to deliver a quarterly to the community.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 13 at the LOCS Administration Building, 315 N. Lapeer St., downtown LO.