High School Voters Could Change Outcome

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

The SMART Board that helps Margie McJames give a very visual Algebra 2 lesson to her students at Okemos High School is just one piece of technology school leaders want to expand in the district.

They're asking voters to support a $6.8 million bond for buses, technology and the infrastructure to support it.

"Compare it to the nervous system," said Steve Vagnozzi, the treasurer for the Okemos Citizens Millage Committee. "It makes everything else work."

Now referendum backers like Vagnozzi have a new ally in their push for new technology: high school seniors just now eligible to vote.

"I'm going to vote for it," Adrienne Chandler said.

Chandler is one of about 100 students who registered to vote when the township clerk came to Okemos High School. Sixty-eight of them will be eligible to vote in next Tuesday's election.

"When you become 18, you can do a lot of things, and one no one really gets excited about is voting," senior Barry McCardel said. "But it's important and it's how our lives are always affected."

McCardel plans on voting yes as well. The bond would pay for more technology to help teachers like SMART Boards and scanning overhead projectors, plus computers and 11 new school buses for the district.

The treasurer of the citizens bond group says the money would put the schools back on their normal computer and bus replacement schedule. It's something he says they haven't been able to do because of state funding.

"Schools in general, not just in Okemos, are struggling," Vagnozzi said.

Voters rejected a technology bond this time last year. This year's scaled-back bond spends less on computers and more on critical writing and other infrastructure upgrades.

Now some students could tip the scales in favor of the plan, even if that technology won't arrive until they've long since graduated.

"It's easy to be apathetic about it but it's also important to look out for siblings and younger kids coming up because that's important for them too."

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