Moving forward: Supt. Ginopolis discusses next steps for LOCS bond at Nov. 14 board meeting

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

Since the passage of the Lake Orion Community Schools bond proposal in the Nov. 6 general election, the community has been waiting to find out what lies ahead.

The truth of the matter is that these projects will not be completed overnight and will take a good deal of time. The first phase of the bond requires the district to spend about $80 million of the $160 million in the first three years.

In order to do this, the board needs to move quickly, and some of the work necessary to get started on these projects has already been done.

The bond is the fifth phase of the district’s overall restructuring plan.

Between May 2015 and June 2016, the administrative board worked to reduce their projected deficit by conducting audits and presenting a balanced budget.

From April 2016 to September 2017, their goal was to right-size the district. The board decided which school to close (Pine Tree Elementary) and redrew attendance boundaries throughout the district.

Then, between September 2017 and June 2018, they began planning their future projects. From September 2017 to August 2018, the district surveyed community members as well as district staff. They toured all of the facilities and created detailed audits and reviews before creating a 10-year master plan.

One of the more important items in moving forward with bond work is creating a Project Management Team that would work with district leadership and be responsible for executing projects from beginning to end.

The board discussed seeking qualified members of the community to be a part of the team during various stages of the bond project.

“Because of the extensiveness of many of the projects, it will be important to have input from our community representatives,” said Supt. Marion Ginopolis at the board meeting.

The district is specifically looking for, “volunteers who represent the interests of the community, provide input related to bond projects, include parents, students, staff, business and community members, available to attend evening meetings as needed, maintain an objective point of view for the good of the district and have a working knowledge of the specified area,” according to Ginopolis.

“The project management team will be the constant working group for literally the next 10 years,” said Assistant Supt. of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald.

The district is expected to have an online application in the near futurefor those interested in being involved.

The board also announced several contracts that have already been awarded: PFM will be the financial advisor; Stifel the underwriter; GMB the architects; Frank Rewold & Son the construction manager; and the technology designer will be Plante Moran.

There are a number of other contracts to be awarded, so that list is expected to grow as projects arise.

As work begins, it is important to note that several of the larger projects have to be done in sequences because they are dependant on other projects, according to administrators and board members.

For example, the new Blanche Sims construction cannot begin until NOTA (which is currently located in the transportation building behind Blanche Sims) is relocated to the transportation facility on Giddings Road.

Additionally, the CERC demolition cannot begin until the Early Childhood Center is built.

Fitzgerald spoke about prioritization and sequencing and how that would affect which bonds would be sold in January and February of next year.

“In terms of the opening series, in terms of a resolution coming from the board, we’re going to take the approach to place a not to exceed number, in terms of board authorization, for the first series of issuance,” said Fitzgerald.

“We’re thinking it’s going to be in the $80 million range but the words, the language of the resolution, will say not to exceed $90 million. Because we haven’t gone through the sequencing process yet and when we do go through that completed process, by the time everything falls into place, it’ll give us a solid set of project priority and project numbers, which feed into the bond sizing for all three sequences so that’s why we’re going to use a not to exceed approach so that when it falls to what it needs to be it’ll be a venue with a not to exceed approach and resolution to take care of what needs to be done at a specific dollar amount,” Fitzgerald said.

This will help create a timeline for projects which will vary depending on the amount of work that needs to be done on specific buildings.

The final school board meeting of 2018 is at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Administration Building, 315 N. Lapeer St.