School Board approves $80 million bond request

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By Jake Atnip
The Mason Times

The Mason School Board unanimously approved an $80 million bond request on Dec. 14. The proposal will go to the Michigan Department of Treasury on Jan. 7 and, if approved, will go to voters in May.

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Bond Proposal outline

The proposal includes $79,845,000 in bonds over a series of disbursements from 2016-2024. The redevelopment plan is separated into three, three-year periods in which the board hopes to renovate all five local public schools and create a new school for fourth and fifth graders.

The current tax rate is 3.70 mills. This proposal would increase the millage rate to approximately 6.85, nearly doubling the current rate. A 1 millage increase would cost the owner of a house that has a market value of $200,000 about $100 a year in taxes. For that same citizen, this proposal would cost approximately $325 that year. This cost will be added to current taxes.This millage increase would take place on Dec. 1, 2016, if the proposal passes.

School Board President Ralph Beebe said, “Our current millage rate is a lot lower than our surrounding districts and this increase would put us right in the middle of the pack.”

This plan was proposed by Chris Waltz, chair of the Mason Public School’s Facilities Improvement and Steering Committee. The bond proposal was created by a committee of citizens and presented to the School Board.

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Steering Committee head, Chris Waltz, proposes the bond request

“This proposal is really all about bringing our educational experience up to today’s standards and getting our kids to have the best possible chance to succeed,” Waltz said.

The plan outlines renovations and additions that could start as early as August 2016. The first changes to be made would be 13 new buses and technology infrastructure to improve classroom learning and communications. The committee plans to have an entire new fleet of buses by 2021.

A new school and upgrades at the others

According to the committee, groundbreaking for the new middle elementary school will not happen until spring 2017 at the earliest.

>Also outlined in the proposal are renovations to Alaiedon Elementary, North Aurelius Elementary, Steele Elementary, Mason Middle School and Mason High School. These improvements will include safety and security measures, technology infrastructure, in-classroom technology and building renovations deemed necessary by the city.

Changes would  include adding a two-story wing to Steele Elementary, a new gymnasium and parking system at North Aurelius Elementary and new HVAC systems in all three elementary schools.

Improvements at the middle school and high school would not take place until 2022. These would include security enhancements and classroom relocations.

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