by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The Facilities Community Exploration Committee recommended a new bond proposal to the Owosso Board of Education, to be placed on the November election ballot with a rate of up to 4.75 mills based on student needs. The Monday, June 26 meeting included results presented by the exploration committee, after a research period of five months, based on a number of guiding principles established by the board. The four speakers representing the committee were Matt McKone, Lori Young-Rowlison, Voula Erfourth, and Stephanie Scheid Griffin.
Young-Rowlison reported that committee members completed an online survey exploring which option would ultimately be best to present to voters that would then garner community support. Some of the options that were considered early on included: do nothing; rely on the sinking fund; build a new middle school; build a new high school; build a new high school and remodel the existing high school for 6th through 9th-grades; reopening an elementary school and additions to the elementary schools to get students away from portable/basement classrooms; Career/Tech Ed needs; HVAC improvements for year-round air quality; performance venues; new transportation facility, and building maintenance. The committee unanimously arrived at the 4.75 mill bond (approximately $44 million) based on careful consideration of needs verses wants.
The first concern of the exploration committee was the need to provide a safe learning environment for students. Once narrowed down, the various options taken under consideration included: building a new 10th through 12th-grade high school and renovating the current high school for 6th through 9th-grades (approximately $74 million); build a new middle school with an estimated cost of $45-48 million, or build a new middle school addition to Owosso High School for 6th through 12th-grades at an estimated $38-40 million.
The Facilities Community Exploration Committee made the recommendation that the board request the 4.75 mills be placed on the ballet for November to accomplish creating a campus for 6th through 12-grades at the current high school location on North Street in Owosso. The plan calls for separation between the middle school and high school, with an improved Career and Tech. Education area, and a middle school gym. It will eliminate maintenance expenditures from the sinking fund for the high school and middle school. It will also include an auditorium with seating of 1,000 plus, and renovations to all elementary schools.
The board unanimously authorized Superintendent Tuttle to continue with preparations for this bond election.