Bond sale options, plans for projects to be discussed

 

IMLAY CITY — Proponents of the Imlay City Schools bond proposal found success at the polls last week. Voters approved the $36.8 million bond request-the lone item on the Nov. 5 ballot in the Tri-City area-with 61 percent of ballots cast in favor of the measure.
The Lapeer County Clerk’s Office posted the unofficial results just before midnight on the 5th showing the vote totals at 1,509 ‘yes’ to 959 ‘no’ votes. Among precincts, the city of Imlay City registered the biggest support at 70 percent, following by Imlay Twp. (62 percent), Goodland Twp. (58 percent), Attica Twp. (52 percent) and Arcadia Twp. (52 percent). Across the area, voter turnout stood at about 25 percent.
“In approving the proposal, our community has made a significant investment in the future of Imlay City,” said Supt. Dr. Stu Cameron.
“This approval communicates the community’s trust in the district and the people here, not only to do the right thing educationally for the children of the community, but also to be good stewards of their significant investment in the district. From the view of the school staff, the result of the election was a real vote of confidence in the work that they do every day.”
School leaders described the request as a ‘no tax rate increase’ as the funding would amount to the continuation of the 6.5 debt millage rate that’s due to expire.
The bulk of the proposed projects encompass things like roof repairs, updated electric and HVAC systems, more secure public entrances, upgrades to public address and surveillance systems and the purchase of new classroom technology. Other items include the renovation of media centers, purchase of 19 buses and various paving/parking lot projects.
Two new construction projects are part of the bond plans too. At Weston Elementary, a new wing with six classrooms would be built to accommodate early childhood programming at an estimated cost of nearly $3 million. At the high school, a 500-seat performing arts center would be added on to the south end of the building. The performing arts center would be utilized for student instruction, performances and community use. It’s projected that addition will cost about $14.2 million.
The next step is for school leaders to meet with their financial advisors, construction management advisors and architects to discuss their bond sale options and scale out projects.
“The Board will identify the immediate priority projects, and we’ll work with project managers to make sure that the sequence of the work makes sense, and then formalize the project completion timeline,” Cameron said.
“It’s important for voters to understand that there is a sequence of events that need to take place before any work can begin. We won’t break ground on the Performing Arts Center tomorrow, or even a month from now. The first step is strategizing and executing the bond sale, securing the revenue, and then putting that revenue to work.”
Going forward, Cameron said the district will be transparent and timely in communicating with the public about the progress of the work. They have plans to create a special section of the district’s website to share that progress.
“As we complete work, we’ll open facilities to the public so they can see their investment become reality,” he added.
Cameron gave kudos to community members who helped shaped the proposal by taking part in focus groups and the citizens group, Vote Yes for ICs, chaired by parents Eric and Melissa Whitney, for promoting the proposal’s passage.
“Ultimately, the success of the proposal was in the hands of voters. When the rubber hits the road, their support is what makes the difference. We deeply appreciate their confidence in us and their support of our schools,” Cameron said.