JOHN M. HELGE: MAPS board should carefully consider proceeds of school sale

TO THE EDITOR:

Based on the report from the Aug. 25 meeting, it appears that members of the Manistee Area Public Schools Board of Education are giving careful consideration in handling difficult decision-making processes. It is good to see this group explore and develop options in a more thoughtful manner before actually committing the funds to any specific project.

It starts with having a clearer understanding of exactly how much money will be coming into the MAPS account from the sale of the Parkdale property. There are already too many rumors referencing figures that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. As soon as the figures are final, this should be clearly communicated to the public.

The opportunities to spend this money will include:

  • There are many who feel strongly that MAPS student-athletes deserve to have a running track to train and showcase their talents. The proven success of the MAPS athletes on and off the track adds to that justification;
  • Just as compelling is the need to find a way to return the compensation of the MAPS educators and support staff to the level it was before the cuts imposed over the past two years. This board has given the students the best technical tools, but these students will need highly-motivated classroom teachers to get the best return on this investment;
  • Another pressing need is the demolition of the condemned building attached to Kennedy Elementary School. This unsafe eyesore is an embarrassment to the Manistee community; and
  • Finally, these proceeds might be used to rebuild the MAPS reserve fund. Making this reserve fund more solvent has been communicated as a strategic goal of this current board.

Today we may not know the exact financial benefit to MAPS from this sale. It is safe to say that it will not be enough to fully fund items 1, 2 or 3. Additional funds to complete those projects will require significant involvement from the taxpayers and the community. Gaining the trust of these constituents will be the challenge the board members will face as they carefully consider their options.

John M. Helge

Manistee

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