MAPS board of education invests in improvements to its infrastructure

MANISTEE — The myth that the Manistee Area Public Schools do not re-invest any money into their buildings is one that has circulated throughout the community for many years.

Monday evening the board of education proved that isn’t the case when they outlined $106,429 in improvements this summer to the Kennedy and Jefferson elementary schools and to the Manistee Middle/High School. It is roughly the amount MAPS puts into its buildings every summer, but board members were informed of improvements this year went beyond the normal scope.

Business manager Howard Vaas, who was filling in for superintendent John Chandler at the meeting, was joined by maintenance supervisor Phil Roskoski in informing the board about the upgrades and repairs. Many were made possible because of the savings garnered from Honeywell Energy upgrade project.

“Because of the money we saved from the Honeywell project, we do have the opportunity to do some face lifts to our buildings,” said Roskoski. “We spend in the neighborhood of this amount of money every year, but it usually would be in boilers, pumps, air handlers and things you don’t see. Those were done by Honeywell, so now we are able to take some of the maintenance and facility budget money and put it into other things.”

Roskoski said that everything that Honeywell is doing with the boilers and the pumps should leave those infrastructure items in good shape. He added the Kennedy Elementary School roof replacement is part of that project and that should eliminate another annual cost.

“Now we can do the things in the areas the public can see,” he said. “There still are some things I am trying to get estimates on so I can add to this list.”

Some of the things addressed at Kennedy Elementary are new carpeting in the media center, repair and reduction of gym bleachers, sidewalk repair, room painting, sand blasting of the front wall, replacement of entry doors and new door locks. Other areas being looked at are painting of the gymnasium, a new emergency public address system, and security bars on the classroom door windows.

At Jefferson Elementary repairs that will be taking place over the next several months are fascia and sofit repair, covering of interor skylights, repair and painting of restrooms, wood chips in the playground and parking lot sealing.

Roskoski said the fascia and sofit has been painted quite a few times and is need of replacement.

“That will make that building look a lot better,” said board president Tom Williams.

He pointed out that many items weren’t included on the list as they are still adding them.

“At the high school we are putting in new faucets and are changing from the hands free to manual ones,” said Roskoski. “The cost on the hand free faucets is outrageous. The eye alone is $140 and we can buy five of those manual faucets for that amount. The hands free ones were aesthetically pleasing, but they just weren’t very functional in a school building.”

Another upgrade coming at the high school/middle school is the replacement of the freezer/cooler at the middle school/high school building.

“Each year we spend about $100,000 to $150,000 on building repairs,” said Vaas. “This year we have been able to get some of the items that have been on the list for quite some time and we are happy about it.”

Vaas said the funding is coming from several locations.

“Some of the items were completed in the month of June, so we put them in the prior year’s budget (ends June 30) and we rolled about $39,000 in the Honewell project and the balance of the cost will be in next year’s budget, he said. “It no where depletes this budget and there is still is money left for the regular ongoing repairs.”

Vaas also reported that at the June meeting the board instructed Chandler to begin the process for a bond request to put before the voters for security and technology improvements at the school buildings and to the tear down the old middle school building.

“We have scheduled a meeting for next week with GMB Architects and the building principals have compiled a list of the things they need in their building to bring security up to what is needed,” Vaas said. “It is the things that we just can’t get with general fund dollars right now.”



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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