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Advisory group recommends school improvements

Group proposes sinking fund to finance repairs

By Judy Reed

They were once a source of pride in the community—and praised by other school districts. But the tennis courts at Red Hawk Elementary are now in grave disrepair and no longer needed now that there are much newer tennis courts at the high school and middle school. And the courts at Hilltop are in even worse shape.
Those are just two things that need to be addressed, according to a board advisory group that made recommendations for repair of the Cedar Springs School district’s infrastructure last November.
Board Advisory Group members Sue Wolfe, Barb Lehman, Heidi Reed, Shannon Vanderhyde, Scott Fuller, and Amy Galle identified a list of priorities that centered on maintaining the community’s investment, and discussed ways to fund the improvements.
Some of the things the group recommended were removal of the tennis courts at Red Hawk and Hilltop; repaving parking lots and roads, curb and gutter; increased parking at Cedar Trails, Beach, and high school; replace gym floors at Beach and Cedar View; replace synthetic turf; security modifications; energy efficient boilers; carpeting; several technology improvements, etc.
“The campus is the community showcase. Landscaping and building structures need to highlight and support our image as a great school,” the group noted in the report.
The advisory board said that the general fund revenue and expenses have stayed within a tight range over the last several years, and that the needed repairs could not be met within the current general fund. The group gave the board two ways to pay for the improvements, with one being a bond issue, and the other a sinking fund.
The school board opted to look at the sinking fund, which can be used for the construction and repair of school buildings, and the purchase of real estate, but not routine maintenance or the purchase or replacement of equipment.
On Monday night, the school board saw a rough draft of the language. According to the rough draft, they would be asking for one mill ($1.00 on every $1,000 of taxable evaluation) for a period of 10 years.
While the rough draft mentioned real estate, both the board and Superintendent Ron McDermed were adamant that was not part of what they were considering. “We are not planning to buy property,” remarked McDermed.
The board instructed him to check on whether the “real estate” language needed to be in the proposal. He agreed and will bring back the proposal to the board next month. If they approve the language, the sinking fund proposal will be on the ballot in May, at the same time as the next school board election.

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