Dear Editor,

For 30 years I have been a proud educator and administrator at Almont Community Schools. I have served as a high school teacher, the assistant high school principal, the middle school principal and, most recently, as the district’s Interim Superintendent. While I’m extremely proud of the academic success of our school district, it’s time the quality of our facilities matches our students’ achievements, and I encourage our community to support next month’s school
millage bond.

Frankly, our high school looks the same as it did when I first walked in three decades ago. It has the same infrastructure and outdated furniture from the 1970s and 1980s, though now in a building with falling roof tiles, cracked sidewalks, and floorboards held together by duct tape. Technology has changed drastically, and our equipment is inadequate in preparing our students for the skills needed for success in the 21st century. The building has no air conditioning, making an extremely uncomfortable learning environment for both teachers and students during the warmer months.

In regard to athletics, the disrepair of some of our facilities has made them dangerous to students. The poor drainage of the football field leaves mud and holes that have already caused a significant knee injury to one of our players. There are massive cracks on the tennis courts, and our track is barely usable. We have not hosted a home track meet since 2017.

The facilities for our music program are also lacking. Our marching band uses the same dangerous muddy football field as our football players and also practices on the parking lot, which is filled with cracks. The band room itself is overcrowded, lacking sufficient space to store costly instruments and uniforms, and the acoustics are poor. Additionally, the auditorium stage isn’t large enough to accommodate the entire band for performances.

These are only the challenges for the high school.

Almont Middle School and Orchard Primary School are also in need of repairs and updating. Like the high school, Almont Middle School lacks adequate equipment for modern STEAM learning, as well as air conditioning. Orchard Primary is so overcrowded that our preschoolers, fourth grade students, and fifth grade students must now learn at Almont Middle School with pre-teen students who are at a completely different developmental stage.

The upcoming school bond would solve these problems. It calls for major improvements for all buildings, including new HVAC systems and repairs to roofing, parking lots, windows, updated electrical and plumbing and flooring, plus additional safety measures like more security cameras, safety film on glass, and new locking systems.

The bond would also provide new equipment, technology, and space to support educational programming. High school students would have access to modern STEM classrooms with 3D printers, a robotics lab, and new laptops and software, plus new music rooms and a new media center.

The middle school would have a new Maker Space to support arts education and creative learning, and Orchard Primary would expand to include eight new classrooms that would reduce overcrowding, plus a dedicated STEAM center.

The bond also calls for a multi-purpose center (field house), which would not only support the district’s sports and music needs, but also benefit the greater community. The multi-purpose center would create a brand-new football field with synthetic turf that is safer for our students and easier to maintain. It would also support soccer and baseball and be accessible for up to eight groups or teams to use it at once. On a broader scale, the multi-purpose center could be a significant revenue-generator for the district and be rented out for recreational sports, art shows, community events, and more.

I love our close-knit community and know we all want the best for our kids and for our future. The bond would provide our students a learning environment reflective of our academic excellence and a basis for them to soar above and beyond. I urge our community in voting yes at the ballot next month.

— Kimberly VonHiltmayer
Interim Superintendent, Almont Community Schools