Home Around Town School eyes $50.7 million for building upgrades

School eyes $50.7 million for building upgrades

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CR 1_CR 1By Scott Sullivan

Editor

Saugatuck Public Schools are poised to ask district voters two approve two building requests totaling $50.7 million May 8.

The school board outlined plans at its Monday public workshop that, if approved, would fund building renovations to replace aging infrastructure and create physical spaces that promote innovation, creativity and drive excellence, members said.

Improvements proposed by the district’s facility steering committee include more windows for daylight, open space, areas for community events, flexible areas and transition zones meant to encourage greater student collaboration between classrooms and engagement with the outdoors.

To do so for the 850-student district, the board expects to formalize at its Monday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m. meeting to request:

  • A 25-year tax hike of 1.17 mills over the district’s current 0.5-mill debt tax rate. This would equal approximately $58.50 per year for each $100,000 in a home’s market value.
  • Maintaining the district’s 0.5-mill sinking fund levy, otherwise due to come off the books in May, for instructional technology, school security and other purposes as authorized by state law.

Should both measures pass, it would cost the owner of a home valued at $300,000 and assessed for half that roughly $175 a year, or $15 a month, said school board president Nathan Lowery.

Building enhancements at both Saugatuck Middle/High and Douglas Elementary schools have been discussed in community outreach forums and public meetings for more than a year.

They would include more windows for daylight, open space, more areas for community events, flexible areas and transition zones meant to encourage greater student collaboration between classrooms and engagement with the outdoors.

Building improvements would include: adding a second story on north and east portions of the middle/high school, DES renovation, constructing a new transportation building to replace the bus garage razed last year, and improvements in both school buildings.

Site funds would allow land purchase, transportation parking and site upgrades, site work at the existing central office, plus parking and circulation improvements at both buildings.

Funds would also be used to buy new buses, plus furnishings and equipment at both school buildings.

Voter approval would trigger issuing bonds in two series, one in 2018 for $23,250,000 and a second in 2020 for $27,450,000.

Representatives from GMB Architecture & Engineering and GDK Construction, both hired by the district to help with design and building plans, shared sketches and answered questions.

“I’m all for collaborative spaces,” said Saugatuck Township resident Kara Burd, who has three children in the school. “Can we get these plans emailed out to the public? $50 million is going to be a hard sell, even to parents.”

Should the board formally place the proposals on the ballot Feb. 12, it will post design principles, concepts, building sketches and funding details on the district’s website, saugatuckps.com.