Answers to Bond Questions

Below are the three questions I’ve heard most often while campaigning for the bond:

1. How will this affect my property taxes?

2. Why not remodel?

3. What is the plan for Red Cedar?

Answers below:

1. For 15 of the last 17 years we have been paying 7 mils for the High School and Middle School remodels. This bond will re-up that 7 mils for approximately 20 more years.

2. The bond committee looked extensively at remodeling and unfortunately, remodeling won’t provide the additional space our teachers and students need. Students no longer sit in rows of desks facing a teacher writing on a chalk board. Learning is much more project based and is often done in small and large groups. More space per child is needed to fully participate. Many have asked how this bond will improve learning. Providing the space to teach and learn in ways that are more transferable to college and the work force enhances our student’s abilities to move seamlessly into these environments. Rebuilding allows us to address significant foundational issues in several of our buildings. In at least one building, stagnant water runs under the building which leads to odor and mold issues. The list of structural and foundation issues is long and remodeling won’t address it. Remodeling saves us 25%, but the life expectancy of new buildings is double that of remodeled buildings. We can also build two story buildings which save significantly on roofing costs and create energy savings over our one-story schools. Lastly, as we work as a community to design these buildings, we can include significant energy saving (LEED certifications, reusable energy, etc.) technology if desired.

3. Currently, the district has three classrooms of preschoolers. Two Great Start Readiness (Read here) and our Early Childhood Special Education classroom (ECSE) comprised of our 2 ½ to 4-year-old students with disabilities. Our ECSE students are mandated to be integrated with their same age, typically developing peers. Unfortunately, we do not have the space in the district to do this. Once Red Cedar has been used to house the students from Glencairn and Pinecrest, these preschool programs will be relocated to Red Cedar and expanded. To address the gap between our highest and lowest performing students, additional State and Federal funded preschool opportunities (Head Start and Early Head Start (Read Here) are needed. Red Cedar provides us the space to expand these programs. With the opening of the new MSU student family housing (1855 property on Marigold and Kalamazoo), we have 100 new children aged 0-18 who are or will be enrolled in ELPS. Many of those children are under the age of 5 and will soon move into Glencairn. This year, Glencairn has 2 Kindergarten class sizes of 28. With Red Cedar open to house our Early childhood programming, there is space to return the old Red Cedar catchment area students and have a small, innovative elementary school (Reggio, Montessori) as recommended in the resolution that closed Red Cedar. The remaining space in Red Cedar can be leased for desperately needed tuition based preschool.

Kath Edsall