When I started to write this letter the sole intent was to tell the community why I believe this bond is integral to the continued success of our district.
However, there is something more important that needs to be said first.
Those of you who know me have no doubt that I love this town with my entire being.
This past year of disunity has broken my heart and devastated my soul.
When I asked to be elected to the Board of Education it was not for praise or accolades, solely to serve the district that raised me, and that I adore.
What I (perhaps naively) did not expect was the vitriol experienced over the last few months.
I am humbled and ever so grateful for the opportunity, but this division has to stop.
So my plea to the community that I love— disagreements are understandable, necessary even, but divisive behavior is not. We are better than this.
Long after this bond, we will still have to be neighbors. We will still have to be a community, and we will still need each other.
What makes Almont great is the people, it always has been. I beg both “sides” not to lose sight of that.
This month, Almont voters are charged with deciding whether or not to pass a bond in support of Almont Community Schools.
As the district’s president of the Board of Education as well as the director of the Almont Downtown Development Authority, I urge everyone to support this measure for the benefit of both our children and our larger community.
Anyone that walks by or into an Almont school can see it is in need of repair.
The sidewalks and parking lots are cracked, the facilities are outdated and the infrastructure is falling apart.
Our students and teachers are forced to work in rooms that can reach over 90 degrees in the summer, and our elementary school is overcrowded.
Modern safety measures are needed, especially in an age where the frequency of school shootings have become an unfortunate reality we must prepare for.
Our sports facilities are also beyond repair and becoming increasingly unsafe.
Our football field is often muddy and has already caused injury to our students. The track is in such hazardous disrepair that we have not been able to host a track meet since 2017.
Our facilities do not match the achievements of our staff, students, or athletes and that is unacceptable.
We have reached a point where replacement parts are now obsolete, and the reality is, the longer we wait to update our facilities, the more costly it will be. We simply cannot wait any longer.
Every May and June I am physically ill from the difficult decisions that have to be made in deciding where to allocate funding to pass our budget.
The recent Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds from the pandemic have been instrumental in allowing us to adopt new, district-wide math and social studies curricula that would not have been possible if we relied on our general funds alone.
But that money is running out, and we are in desperate need of other sources to improve and maintain our schools.
The bond is crucial. It would allow us to replace our deteriorating infrastructure and provide a comfortable learning environment.
It would make crucial safety and security measures like adding a new locking system and more security cameras, as well as provide for things like updated fire alarms and new emergency exit lighting.
It would also establish an additional source of revenue which would ease the burden of working with the limited resources in our general fund.
Part of the bond would establish a field house that would provide indoor space for our academics and arts as well as new facilities to allow multiple teams to practice at once.
But also significant, the facility would be available to be rented out for community events and provide a much-welcome additional stream of revenue for the district.
It would also include a solar panel roof, which would offset the school’s electric bill by $150,000.
From a financial standpoint, the bond is a great investment for our students but also our larger community.
The two things that you want in a community are strong schools and a strong downtown, and improving our school district with this millage will have a direct impact on increasing our property values.
Not to mention that this millage will result in an actual tax decrease for residents.
For those still not convinced, I urge you to look back to 1986 when the K-12 building had fallen into such a state of disrepair that parts of it had to be condemned.
The high school and elementary had to share facilities and went on split sessions with each school only getting access for half a day.
Property values plummeted and people were moving out, because no one wanted their kids to go to school here.
This may be an extreme, but this is the direction we’re headed in if we don’t act now.
Our students have had to make do for far too long and deserve facilities that match their academic achievements.
They’ve done well, but imagine how much they could achieve with the additional support from the community. Please join me in voting yes.
— Angela T. Edwards
Almont Community Schools,
Board of Education, President