By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer
The Durand Board of Education held a community forum on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the Middle School cafeteria to personally inform Durand School District taxpayers about the district’s upcoming no-mill increase bond proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Only a handful of area residents made the trip, but the board members presented a revised, more detailed plan for the improvements the school district hopes to make if the proposal is approved.
The school district will receive $6.4 million after refunding two bonds in 2014, and the upcoming vote will determine if the district gets to keep those interest savings.
The board members were advised by Durand City Councilman Tom VanRiper earlier this month to provide voters with a more detailed plan for how the revenue will be spent. The board responded by expounding on their original presentation, which listed “technology, safety and security and energy efficiency” as areas in need of improvement, by putting costs to each repair.
*Bertha Neal Elementary improvements will cost $1,246,530 and will include a roof replacement at a cost of $224,000; a secure main entrance for $8,900; new windows for $123,630; new ventilators for $300,000; new boilers and a conversion to hot water for $448,000; new control system for heating system; $25,000 for upgraded technology; and $21,000 for additional security cameras.
*Robert Kerr Elementary will receive $1,771,688 in repairs, including $258,500 for new windows; $238,000 for a new roof; $350,000 for new unit ventilators; $425,000 for new boilers; $2,000 for boiler room pumps; $125,000 for upgraded and additional technology; and $21,000 for additional cameras.
*The Middle School will receive $1,314,124 for repairs and improvements, including $16,800 for new down spout tie-ins; $394,650 for a roof replacement; $200,000 for improved and additional technology; and $14,000 for additional cameras.
*The High School will receive $1,166,586 in improvements, including $25,000 for a new, secured entrance; $390,000 for new boilers; $40,000 for pipe replacement; $282,000 for electrical improvements; $125,000 for technological upgrades; and $17,500 for additional security cameras.
The school district also plans to designate $233,566 to improve their transportation building and surrounding area, including $27,200 for a roof replacement and $160,000 to replace the access drive to N. Saginaw Street.
Sup’t Craig McCrumb pointed out to those in attendance that, while most schools take a millage to maintain a sinking fund, Durand has not asked its taxpayers for that extra tax. He also pointed out that sinking funds can be spent much more liberally than refunded bond money, which cannot be spent on staff salaries, general operating expenses, school supplies or textbooks, or administration. He also noted that, with the exception of the relatively new Middle School, Durand’s facilities were all built “around the 1960s,” and that if the current no-mill increase proposal fails, the school district will undoubtedly need to ask for a regular millage in the “next few years.”
The refunded 2005 and 2006 bonds were both to be paid off by 2031. The new bond proposal will run until 2031 as well, so the taxpayers will not be on the hook for any longer than originally expected. The board members stressed that the debt millage rate will not increase from its current 6.7 mill rate. Meanwhile, the school district will have access to the $6.4 million immediately upon the sale of the bonds.