Lansing Millage for School Repairs

By: Katie Kim Email
By: Katie Kim Email

Students at Sexton High School in Lansing will be the first to tell you -- their school needs a makeover.

"It's 72 years old," says sophomore Bradley Pinckney. "The classrooms are old. There's no AC."

"Some stairs are messed up," says junior Kiera Hughey. "Classrooms aren't that great. Maybe the lockerooms and some of the ceilings leak."

"Some classes get colder than others. Some get hotter," says senior Eli Eva.

But it's not just Sexton High. Lansing Schools Superintendent T.C. Wallace says most of the district's 33 buildings need some major updating.

"Leaking roofs, heating and cooling systems, flooring, lighting, huge potholes that we can't adequately repair," says Wallace.

For years, administrators have used general fund dollars for quick fixes around schools. But with growing budget deficits, they no longer have that option.

"Even those emergency repairs without taking dollars from the critical areas, such as instruction," Wallace says.

So the district is asking voters to help by approving a 1.5 mil, 5-year property tax increase in November to pay into a sinking fund. The proposal would generate more than $4.18 million a year, $20.9 million over the next 5 years.

Money would be allocated as follows:
-$7.913 million to replace leaking roofs
-$3.924 million to replace aging and unreliable boilers, heating, colling and ventilation systems
-$3.096 million to upgrade deteriorated parking lots
-$2.88 million to replace aging and inefficient lighting
-$1.62 million to upgrade building infrastructure
-$840,000 to replace obsolete and aging energy management control systems
-$628,000 to replace classroom and hallway flooring

The average homeowner with property valued at $100,000 will have to pay $75 a year, roughly $6.25 a month.

"It will not cover all of our needs," Wallace says. "But it would help us to take care of the major repairs."

Wallace understands now is not the best time to ask people to pay higher taxes, but he says it's an investment for the future.

"You can't have roofs that leak and water constantly coming down the wall," Wallace says. "Those are the kinds of distractions with kids that cause them to be off-task."

The fund will only be used for site maintenance. Under law, it cannot be used to pay salaries or benefits for administrators, teachers or other employees. It also may not be used to pay for supplies, software, equipment or other operating expenses.

The Lansing School District will have an information meeting for community members on the Building and Site Sinking Fund Proposal from 12-1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17 at Sexton High School in the Social Room.


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