By LINDA LOBECK
IRON MOUNTAIN - In a little less than two weeks, the voters in the Iron Mountain School District will get a chance to vote on a bond proposal for the purpose of making some major remodeling projects to the district's buildings.
Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 26, to vote on both the school bond request - looking to borrow up to $9.5 million for 18 years - as well as the county's 911 millage proposal.
"It a real need and not anything we can really do without," Supt. Tom Jayne said at a meeting Wednesday night. "They are basic things - heating, lighting, safety, making repairs and technology improvements."
A handful of interested residents attended the first of two public meetings on the bond issue Wednesday night with the second planned for Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Izzo-Mariucci Center. A meeting was held earlier to explain the bond proposal and specifically moving the students in grades 4-6 to East Elementary School next year.
Under facility repairs and improvements, the bond proposal includes fixing the leaking roofs, renovating to add space for classrooms, restrooms and storage, finishing auditorium renovations and improving outdated plumbing and phone systems.
In the area of technology, Jayne noted, they are looking to provide infrastructure and user devices to make sure the Iron Mountain School District is ready for the future. An upgrade to the fire alarm and security systems and more outdoor lighting are also planned with the bond proposal.
Finally, the bond proposal includes efficiency improvements that will save money and reduce energy use by replacing inefficient heating systems, lighting and windows.
"We estimate that replacing the boiler will alone save the district more than $150,000 per year in increased efficiency and decreased repairs," Jayne said.
He added that Iron Mountain is different than other small towns because of its long tradition of excellence in education.
When voters voted down the 2012 millage request, the school officials and a group of parents and concerned residents got together and looked at spending less money while still giving the students the best possible education.
Some of the concerns and questions that came up during this evaluation process were whether Central School was going to be closed down and demolished. That is no longer in the plan with this bond proposal. The plan is to have Community Schools use the older section of Central School.
Another concern from the previous bond election was the combining of middle and high school students. That is no longer being considered. The plan is to have the middle school students housed above the Central School addition. The students will travel to the high school for classes less than they currently do.
There have been many misconceptions from people as to whether the two school districts - Iron Mountain and Breitung Township - could consolidate at this time.
But that is not true, Jayne said, since there isn't enough physical room to house all the students in one district.
"But the two districts are consolidating many of their programs and services already," he said.
The language on the ballot Feb. 26 will ask voters whether they will approve borrowing up to $9.5 million for 18 years with the purpose of paying for the cost of:
- Remodeling, equipping, re-equipping, furnishing and re-furnishing the school buildings and other facilities.
- Preparing, developing and improving sites at the school buildings and other facilities.
- Equipping and re-equipping school buildings and other facilities for technology systems and equipment.
The previous bond issue put before voters in May 2012 asked for approval of $11 million for 20 years and was defeated by a total of 46 votes.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.