Caledonia to Vote on No-Increase Bondby Linda Odette
Voters in the Caledonia Community Schools district will go to the polls next month to decide on a bond issue leaders call a “zero millage increase.”
The $41 million bond translates into no increase because it simply extends the current bond payment schedule, said Superintendent Randy Rodriguez. The 7 mill levy would run until 2036 instead of 2028.
Rising enrollment is a big reason behind the request. The high school has 1,400 students but that’s expected to rise to 1,650 by 2017 and keep rising, he explained.
The biggest portion of the bond will go to a new building at the high school for ninth graders and elective high school classes. Initially it will house 600 students but it will have the capability to house 1,250.
“To me, it’s not just about books and mortar,” Rodriguez said. “It’s an opportunity to build on a great foundation.”
Rodriguez said an advisory committee formed in the fall conducted a survey that showed 82 percent of the respondents said it was “urgent or important” to add space to the existing high school building.
The bond money would split up as follows:
- $28 million for a new facility southwest of the current building for ninth-grade core classrooms and high school elective classrooms
- $5.9 million for renovations and improvements, including new or upgraded roofs at Emmons Lake and Caledonia elementaries, Duncan Lake and Kraft Meadows middle schools and Duncan Lake Early Childhood Center. Driveway and parking lot resurfacing would be done at Duncan Lake and Kraft Meadows middle schools. Improvements at the Fine Arts center, restrooms, window and door replacements, a new turf for the baseball field and resurfacing of the tennis courts are among the other items on this list.
- $4.5 million to keep up with changing technology, including infrastructure devices like servers and wire ports, and updated equipment for students, teachers and staff
- $2.6 million for safety and security needs by remodeling entries at five schools and updating fire alarm and clock systems. This will result in secure entries and visitor identification kiosks at all buildings.
If the bond passes, Rodriguez said ground-breaking for the new building would be next spring and would be expected to open in the fall of 2017.
Community forums to explain the issues have gone well, according to Rodriguez. Ironically, the biggest question people have had, he said, is “Will the students have to go outside to get to their classes?
He said the answer is “Yes, they will. There will be a walkway between the new building and the high school.”
The final community meeting will be April 21 at the Community Resource Center. Specific project lists and renderings will be displayed at each school and online at the district website.
CONNECTApril 17th 2014