By Janae Fear, contributing writer
REPLACING the Owosso Middle School with an addition to Owosso High School if voters approve, is on the Owosso Board of Education’s agenda for the 7 p.m. Monday meeting at OHS. The question to district voters could carry a 5.5 mil property tax increase for 30 years, or a 3.99 mill increase for 30 years, depending on which question the school board votes to present. This was the OMS view Thursday morning. (Independent Photo/BILL CONSTINE)
The decision on whether to place a 30-year bonding question on an election which would be called for Nov. 3 is to be decided by the Owosso Board of Education during the 7 p.m. Monday, June 22, meeting in the Owosso High School Media Center.
As a Committee of the Whole, the board held meetings Monday, June 1, and Wednesday, June 17, to determine if a Prequalification Application (PQA) would be presented at the board meeting Monday, June 22, and if so, which PQA.
The three options include: 1) A Nov. 3 30-year bonding proposal with plans to include a new stripped-down basic auditorium but no pool; 2) A Nov. 3 vote with plans that exclude both an auditorium and a pool; or 3) To hold off on a vote until May. It was noted that a late February special election may not be permitted by the state in 2016 due to anticipated legislation that would prohibit the number of special elections allowed during a presidential election year.
After the previous 30-year bond proposal failed Feb. 25, the district hired EPIC–MRA, a Lansing-based survey research firm, for a survey to gather information from voters about the bonding attempt. It was determined that the two main reasons the proposal failed were: first because of the proposed new pool; and a close second, the planned new auditorium. Because of the survey results, it was decided to currently exclude a new pool from any future bonding plans.
There was much discussion Wednesday night regarding the logistics of a no auditorium – no pool millage passing. Current plans for a new combined Middle and High School include converting the existing Gilbert-Bremer Auditorium at OHS into a new cafeteria space for the middle school students. If the board were to proceed with this option and the millage passed, the existing plans would have to change so that the auditorium would be preserved as it would be the only auditorium space the district will have – assuming the Owosso Middle School in downtown Owosso is sold as intended. Other issues surrounding the “no auditorium” option include the difficulty in scheduling classes. The current high school auditorium is used on a daily basis as classroom space but with the
addition of the middle school bands and choirs, it was noted that it would be extremely difficult to schedule all of the needed classes.
The “auditorium – no pool option” would carry an increase of 5.5 mils for 30 years with an average of 5.14 mils per year while the “no auditorium – no pool option” would be an increase of 3.99 mils for 30 years with an average of 3.61 mils per year.
With some dissention, the Committee of the Whole decided to present the Board with a PQA to vote in November with plans to include a new auditorium.