Two Mid-Mich. School Districts Try Again on Bonds

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"We learned from the public ... that they want some choice," said Steve Krumm, director of administrative services for the Grand Ledge Public Schools.

So the new $40.1 million proposal in Grand Ledge, pared down by millions from a failed May 2006 bond, is split in two.

First, the district is asking for $34.6 million to pay for academic needs.

Among the needs the district listst are an expanded cafeteria and library, a new more secure entryway and four new classrooms -- all at the high school. New classrooms are also slated for Delta Center Elementary. Updates to technology and new school buses would be purchased as well.

The second part of the $40.1 million bond is $5.5 million for athletic improvements. Gone from the earlier, failed bond are plans for articial turf on the football field.

"What the public told us at the last election is that they didn't want any frills in the bond issue," Krumm said.

What remains are improvements to just about every sports field at the Grand Ledge campus.

Both the academic and athletic bonds are scaled down by millions from the failed May 2006 proposal.

If both the academic and athletic bonds pass, it would mean a $60 increase in annual taxes for a home valued at $100,000, according to data provided by the district. It says the expansions are needed because of dramatic growth.

"We have a lot more residences, a lot more projects that are on the charts," Krumm said.

In Okemos, it's a similar situation in that the district is putting another proposal before voters who rejected a bond proposal back in May.

"We heard loud and clear from our community that they wanted more detail," Okemos Board of Education President Bob McDonough said.

So the school has held technology forums like one held Tuesday night to educate the public and exactly how the district plants to spend the $6.8 million it's asking for.

"Network infrastructure, servers, classroom equipment," McDonough detailed.

Plus, just like in Grand Ledge, Okemos administrators say the district needs more buses. If the Okemos proposal passes, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would owe as much as another $60 a year in taxes, according to the district's data. School leaders say the money is needed.

"It's necessary for us to maintain a program that prepares our kids for the 21st century," McDonough said.

Now the question is: Will voters see it that way? Boards in both districts are expected to put the bond proposals on the May 8 school ballot.