The Examiner

Three-Proposition Mt. Pleasant School Bond Set for March 24

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Mount Pleasant School District officials are proposing a three-proposition capital projects bond that will go to the voters on March 24.
Mount Pleasant School District officials are proposing a three-proposition capital projects bond that will go to the voters on March 24.

For the second time in four months, Mount Pleasant School District residents will be asked to vote on a major capital projects bond.

The board of education voted unanimously last Wednesday to approve a three-proposition bond that will go before district voters on March 24.

Proposition 1 would permit the district to borrow up to $34,920,000 for most of the infrastructure improvements included in the November bond proposal. The overwhelming number of projects are proposed for Westlake Middle School and Westlake High school.

The second proposition would give the district permission to borrow up to $4,996,000 for the expansion of the high school auditorium and music rooms. The auditorium expansion would be a scaled-back version of what was proposed in November.

The final proposition asks for the district to build a second access road at the middle school/high school campus for as much as $2,685,000.

Board of Education President James Grieco stressed that the three propositions were independent of each other. If one or two of them are approved, the work outlined in those propositions would move forward.

The new bond was broken up into three propositions to “give the community an opportunity to pick and choose,” he said. Grieco and his colleagues understood the new bond would need to be less costly than the $55,855,000 November proposition that was soundly rejected by voters.

“It scared a lot of people off,” he said of the original referendum’s price tag.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Guiney said some of the items taken out of the new bond, such as new classroom lighting and flooring and security upgrades, will be paid for through the capital projects line in the annual budget. Also, the scope of a new student commons area, renovation t of the cafeteria renovation and enhancement the lobby and guidance areas have been scaled back. District officials also agreed to eliminate the artificial turf and lights, which many residents opposed last fall, along with lower athletic fields and tennis courts field at the high school.

While a January survey of district residents revealed that 81 percent of respondents would be likely or very likely to vote for an infrastructure and renovations bond, 39 percent of survey respondents said they were not likely to support a bond that included renovations to the high school auditorium, band and chorus rooms and a music computer lab.

About 46 percent opposed a bond that included a second access road for the secondary school campus.

Board members have supported the controversial second access road to the campus because it would allow for easier evacuation in the event of an emergency. Grieco said it made no sense to construct a temporary road, which was an alternative.

“In my opinion, it’s money wasted,” he said.

While most of the bond would be dedicated to the middle school and high school, it also would continue to include various capital projects at Columbus and Hawthorne Elementary Schools. At the elementary schools the bond would pay for the creation of additional parking spaces and expansion of the drop-off areas for students at Columbus Elementary School.

Director of Business Administration Lisa Sanfilippo said figures regarding tax impact would not be known until after she met with the district’s bond counsel. The defeated November bond would have raised taxes on the average home about $360 in the first year.

While most residents who spoke during last Wednesday’s meeting were generally supportive of the reconfigured proposal, two expressed reservations. Resident Yvonne Last said she was concerned that the reduced scope of the new bond would postpone critical projects, triggering a need for another bond.

Another resident, Margaret DeGasperis, said the new bond would further hike already high school taxes. But district officials said Mount Pleasant school taxes were among the lowest in the region.

The March 24 vote will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Westlake High School gymnasium.


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