At the Sept. 11 meeting the Almont school board continued to ponder the addition of a fieldhouse to the Almont school complex. They began the project with a 2.6-acre fieldhouse at a cost of $62 million then downsized it to 2 acres at a cost of a little less than $60 million.
Attendees weren’t allowed to ask questions during the meeting. These are some questions I would have asked at that Sept. 11 meeting.
Why are they considering a $60 million bond at a time when interest rates are the highest they have been in years? How many years will it take to repay this bond, 30 or 40 years at 6% or 7%? Placing the taxpayers of Almont at that level of debt at that interest rate seems like impulse buying. Will this tax burden discourage commercial investment in our township? Will it be detrimental to residential values? Do you think we have the tax base required to support this level of debt by our township residents?
If, in years to come, another school district offers education at a level surpassing Almont’s, will we lose School of Choice and Almont students? A reduced head count results in reduced state funding. What costs are you forecasting for the annual operation, heating, air conditioning and maintenance of a 2-acre field house?
Why don’t we spend that money where the rubber meets the road, in the classroom? Let’s harden the classrooms. Continue to hire the most qualified teachers, counselors and aids available. Let’s make Almont a destination for top notch educators. What ratio of counselors to students do you consider adequate in today’s society? Today we have students who question their gender, students who are bullied, students experiencing depression, students with drug problems. We need counselors who can help students with sociological problems and assist with selecting the right career path for their skill set. Some schools have a counselor ratio that exceeds 200 to 1. Do you feel that ratio is adequate in light of the challenges and pitfalls our students face and must navigate today?
What should Almont Schools be known for– students who are civic, industrial, scientific, and environmental leaders– or would you trade those future leaders for a few athletes?
— Tom Janicki