Second try for school repair tax on May ballot

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By Michelle Armstead
Williamston Post staff writer

The Williamston School Board plans to put a tax proposal on the May ballot to fund school repairs. Voters rejected a similar proposal Nov.6.

The state allows the district to establish a sinking fund rather than a bond to pay for school repairs; according the Steve Cook, director of finance, the district’s debt structure does not levy enough millage to cover its current bonds. The last bond issue was given in 2005.

In December, it was reported that Williamston High School had cracked floors, leaking ceilings in multiple areas of the school and a broken boiler. The district reported that there were eroding parking lots, rusted doors and damaged carpeting.

With the sinking fund the money could be used to improve or replace heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems equipment; flooring such as carpet, tile flooring and rubber flooring; and sidewalks, parking lots, doors and windows.

These improvements have been put on a “wish list” made by Cook.

Moreover, Cook stated that there is several million dollars of expenses all together.
“For the most part there’s at least over $1 million to be spent in roofs alone,” he added.

It was reported in December 2012 that if the sinking fund proposal does not pass by February or May, the district will have to take the money from student-learning programs. Among the programs in danger include service learning projects, integrated arts, the Math Science Academy, Project Lead the Way, Model UN, Camp PaWapi, InvenTeam and robotics classes.

However, during the Feb. 4 board meeting, a resolution was passed to hold the sinking fund proposal until May where the ballot will be voted on.

Superintendent Narda Murphy stated that a committee is currently seeking more members to inform the public on the issues surrounding the sinking fund.

“The school board just provides the facts in order to avoid seeming biased,” she added.
Jeffrey Thoenes, principal of Williamston High School, is hoping that the sinking fund will pass this time around.

State funding based on student count day is currently used to pay for salaries, technology and infrastructure.

“If there’s a separate fund, the money could be used for capital improvement,” he added. “The money that could be used for instruction instead goes to fix roofs, repair walls…the same old, same old.”

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