GUEST COLUMN: Bond issue will add critical security measures, upgrade facilities and equipment

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By Erin J. MacGregor
Superintendent, Howell Public Schools

On May 7, 2019, the Howell Public Schools community will be asked to vote on a $39 million dollar bond proposal to fund much-needed improvements to each of our 11 buildings. This is a no-frills proposal that will help the district address critical infrastructure needs, increase safety and security at our buildings, improve educational spaces, replace aging buses, and enhance some of our athletic and performing arts facilities. We will be able to address these needs while actually lowering the current debt millage.

This bond proposal originated following the narrow defeat of the Securing Our Future Sinking Fund Proposal in November. When that proposal failed, we heard from parents and community members that there was a strong desire for us to come back with a new proposal allowing us to do more than the sinking fund would have allowed. This proposal is the result of that feedback.

The top priority of Howell Public Schools is to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for our students. If approved, the bond would add critical security features to keep students safe. Specifically, it would provide funds to include secure entrances at each building and implement a new internal door access system.

If approved, the bond would update aging facilities and equipment before they fail. With an average age of 38 years old, many of our buildings are showing their age and are in need of major upgrades. In the coming years, seven of our 11 buildings will need new roofs, and eight of our 11 buildings will need heating and cooling system upgrades or replacements. Around the district, we would use bond funds to repave parking lots and rebuild sidewalks. We would also fund the replacement of 21 school buses over several years. These are major expenses that our general fund budget cannot absorb without major cuts to our existing budget, including the elimination of programs and reduction of personnel.

The ways we teach and how students learn have changed drastically since our schools were built. Our current buildings cannot keep pace with today’s kids. If approved, the bond would create 21st-century classrooms. Specifically, we would add STEM/STEAM spaces to each school to help students prepare for college and future careers. Additionally, the bond would allow us to introduce flexible seating options in our buildings, which would enhance teaching and learning experiences.

The bond would also allow us to enhance some of our athletic and performing arts facilities. In the Rod Bushey Performing Art Center, we would be able to upgrade the sound and lighting equipment as well as replace the auditorium seating. In the area of athletics, we would complete upgrades to the sound system, lighting, and track at Memorial Stadium. The bond would also allow us to convert our current weight room into a new strength and cardio training center. Our baseball and softball fields would also see upgrades with new bleachers, a paved parking area and new restroom facilities.

To help share the details of this proposal with our stakeholders, we have created the website HowellSchools.com/ForOurKids. On the website, you will find all of the details about the proposal, the estimated first-year tax decrease, flyers describing the bond projects by building and more. If you have questions that are not answered on the website, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (517) 548-6234.

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