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School bond vote in May?

District proposes $23.1 million in improvements

November 30, 2011 - Technology and construction constitute more than half of the proposed $23.1 million capital needs list under consideration for Clarkston schools.

Building construction projects would cost $6.3 million, with $8.5 million for technology. The needs list also includes $4.4 million for site development, $917,000 for furnishings and equipment, $500,000 for security, and $309,000 for instrumental music.

The next step for administration is to determine what items are a priority and costs associated with them. Then, school board and administraiton will look at how to pay for it, seeking a bond from the community, sinking fund, using the general fund or taking out a district loan.

If it goes to bond, it could be put to a vote in May.

"We have to look at these items and really priotize," Hyer said. "I think we can make a package that really makes sense. It's about how do we create an environment teachers can teach. I am supportive of coming together with a package to put our curriculum vision in place."

"My concern is are we going to have a discussion about how we are going to pay for this," said Trustee Joan Patterson. "We have to be careful."

Trustee Rosalie Lieblang noted she would like to see more community input.

The $8.5 million in technology would upgrade electronics, create district-wide wireless access, increase mobility technology, and increase data storage. The district would also replace computers, most of which are 5-7 years old and "outdated," and interactive technology such as tablets, smart boards, and classroom sound systems.

Matt McCarty, executive director for the Technology Services Department, said technology has changed since 2003, when the last school bond was passed.

The biggest changes, he noted, were in mobility of technology and communication. In 2003, technology was used for word processing, spreadsheets, research and email. Now students use it to work with classmates as well as students all over the world.

"Technology changes," Patterson pointed out. "We have to be careful what we are spending our money on will be of value and not obsolete. It is a great tool but we need to give them the base level of knowledge."

Vice President Elizabeth Egan said the district should consider leasing versus purchasing.

"Before money is invested, please make sure the teachers are on board," added parent Betty Reilly.

Reilly said the district should ask for items really needed and to be frugal.

"You teach. Show to live within your means," she said.

Proposed building projects throughout the district include caulk renovation, electrical and lighting upgrades, energy management upgrades, handicap doors at Clarkston High School, an air conditioned gym at Springfield Plains Elementary, repair sanitary lines at Clarkston Junior High as well as remodel the bathrooms near the cafeteria and renovate the locker rooms and restrooms in the gym. They also need to improve the ventilation in the technology workshop at Sashabaw Middle School.

"We have to cut capital purchases as much as we can," said Treasurer Steve Hyer. "We don't want to put it in a package and deal with it 10-15 years later."

He also asked for the administration to explain the district current physical plan and if extra costs would be involved. The next Board of Education is scheduled for Dec. 12, 7 p.m. at the administrationoffice on 6389 Clarkston Road.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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