by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The Nov. 7 election ballot includes a bond proposal for the Owosso Public School district and also a village of Morrice street millage proposal.
The Owosso Public School Bond Proposal is asking for $45,500,000 for the purpose of consolidating and enlarging the middle school campus with the current high school campus on North Street, though the combined schools will be separate, and will offer different, individualized gym and cafeteria spaces. The combined school campus plan includes the remodeling of 59 classrooms with the addition of 20 new classrooms, a new multi-purpose performance room (not an auditorium), separate entrances, stronger security, and upgrades in technology.
A community group comprised of 60 individuals worked for six months to make a carefully informed decision about moving middle school children out of the current Water Street building, built in 1928. Their research, showing the school district could not support more than 4.75 mills, helped form the educated consensus that building a new middle school would exceed that limit. The group considered numerous options, but concluded that the combined OHS/OMS campus was economically and educationally the most beneficial route for Owosso school students.
Other improvements suggested by this community group and included in the bond proposal, outline the necessity to remove portable classrooms from the three elementary schools and construct new, multi-purpose spaces at each of these schools. Security and technology upgrades are included for the entire district.
Owosso Public Schools has held a zero debt
millage for 30 years, in comparison to nearby schools such as Corunna with 4.57 mills, Durand at almost 7 mills, and Perry with 7.6 mills. The Owosso school system includes over 3,300 students* (preschool through 12th-grade) within a supporting population of approximately 14,600 individuals with a median age of 35. The school system offers a 99 percent graduation rate and was ranked 75th in the state of Michigan in 2017, according to usnews.com, earning a silver medal in education under those academic guidelines.
It is interesting to note that the last time Owosso saw a bond proposal pass was in April 1973 for the amount of $1,995,000 for the Owosso Middle School remodel. At that time, 79 percent of over 5,700 Owosso voters accepted the increase. The recent bond proposals from February and November of 2015 did not pass. The last proposal failed by only 541 votes. The sinking fund that was first approved in 1998 will expire in 2018.
Aside from the school bond issue, the village of Morrice has a street millage proposal on the ballot, requesting an additional 2 mills to be used toward the purpose of street replacement, repair, and maintenance. The proposal is strictly regulated toward improving streets within the village limits, and will be levied for 5 years, running through the 2022 tax year.
Shiawassee County received new voting equipment in August that included tabulators, printers, and ADA devices. The Dominion Voting Systems equipment was tested by technicians early on in the process by Election Source, a consulting company that works with Dominion. The upcoming election marks the first time the new system will be utilized. Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson is excited to see the efficient new equipment utilized by voters. She shared that “we’re thrilled this is all in place. We’re all set to get our feet wet.” Wilson emphasized that the clerk’s office has been working closely with RESD, so the results will be efficiently recorded on the county website.
Election results can be found at www.shiawassee.net (search: election results). Wilson explained that the county has also been busy updating the web page to make it more “user friendly” and
The county’s clerks were trained in August on the new equipment. Wilson and city of Owosso Clerk Amy Kirkland, were trained in September on how to be at the receiving end of the voter information. Kirkland, chosen by Wilson, was trained because of her previous knowledge in working elections.
Eleven Owosso polling areas and one more polling area in Morrice are included in this special election.
*This data was validated on Wednesday, Nov. 1 through Owosso Public Schools.