It’s an exciting time for Imlay City Schools as they approach the next and largest phase of their bond projects.

Late last month, the board authorized more than $15.1 million in bids related to two new construction projects—a classroom addition at Weston Elementary and a performing arts center to be added onto the high school.

The bid awards came just shy of the one-year mark since voters approved the $36.8 million bond proposal in November 2019. Although the bond dollars are being used for a range of projects and improvements, this new construction phase encompasses the biggest and most noticeable work, particularly the performing arts center.

A lot has changed since 61 percent of voters gave their blessing to the continuation of the 6.5 debt millage rate last November. About four months after that vote, the pandemic put a halt to in-person learning. One silver lining in that scenario was that contractors were able to get an earlier start on projects that had been reserved for the summer break.

Some nine months later, district leaders were exceedingly grateful they had access to bond dollars to purchase Chromebooks for some 20 percent of their existing student body who opted to learn remotely in the 2020-21 school year too. Should the situation around COVID-19 worsen to the point that in-person learning is halted, the district intends to have enough devices for every student who will need to learn from home, again, thanks to bond dollars.

Just one year ago, supporters of the arts were excited at the prospect of having a 500 seat venue for music performances, theater productions and more. Today, we’re trying to avoid gathering in large crowds. Although ground will soon be turned for the performing arts center, it won’t be ready to use until the summer of 2022. Let’s hope that by then, the grip of the pandemic will have loosened its hold or, even better, be a moment in history and gathering to celebrate and embrace student achievement on the stage will once again be the norm.