Onekama Board of Education review what comes next after millage failure

Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes makes a point to the board of education about the two millage requests that failed last Tuesday. The board discussed what options it would have in moving forward.

Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes makes a point to the board of education about the two millage requests that failed last Tuesday. The board discussed what options it would have in moving forward.

ONEKAMA — Members of the Onekama Consolidated Schools held a frank discussion on Monday evening on what comes next after the failure last Tuesday of the district’s millage request.

Superintendent Kevin Hughes told the board he thought school officials and committee members did a better job this time in getting out the word on the millage. However, both proposals were defeated by the voters.

Final tallies showed Proposal 1 failing by a 979-657 margin. It called for the purchase of two new buses and new roofs for several parts of the campus. Security upgrades and heating and cooling would have been updated as well under the 15-year .35 mill request.

Proposal 2 for updating the technology on the K-12 campus: K-5 iPads, 6-12 Mac Airs, lab computers, teacher aid computers, new phone system, instructional projectors with sound system (K-12) went down 999-629. These updates would have included infrastructure updates of wireless access points, switching infrastructure and cabling.

“I originally thought Proposal 1 had a good chance to pass,” Hughes told the board. “I know on Proposal 2 there was some blow back on some of those issues. However, when the electorate voted it was clear that the people spoke and it was 60 to 40 percent against. I looked at all five precincts and it was pretty consistent across the board.”

Hughes said now that they have had some time to think about it, they are considering bond refinancing of the current bonds held by the district. Many times when districts take that step they are able to save money that they can re-invest into improvements for the district.

“We are going to meet with the advisers on that issue and look at our portfolio and see if there is something we could do,” he said. “I talked with our attorney and he said he was involved in 10 bond issues around Michigan in this election and five of them were defeated.”

Hughes said prior to the election some people said the language on the ballot issue was confusing, making people think it was a larger amount than what the district was actually asking for from the voters. He said that language was done to meet state requirements.

Hughes said he is going to meet with the technology committee to see where they are at in that issue, but for now, roofs, security and boiler issues are all being moved to the back burner in terms of importance.

The board all said they had received different types of feedback. Board member Kevin Miller said the ballot language and the fact that the district just purchased computers caused some people he talked to to question the proposal.

Board member Jerry Brown said it might have been a case where the public is just in a position where they don’t feel capable of being able to support a bond millage at this time.

“I think it is rough out there for a lot of people and that is the real world out there,” said Brown. “Their attitude is pretty much that we need to knuckle down and learn what they are going through. So we have to knuckle down and show them that we can find a way like they are finding a way.”

Hughes agreed with the assesment.

“I have some friends and neighbors who want to be supportive, but they are just saying ‘no new taxes,'” he said. “We still have one of the nicest facilities in the county and we need to focus on that and make due for now with dollars we have available to us.”

Board president Sally Koon agreed that a change in direction might be the best course for right now.

“I agree with all of that I think we need to just step back and take a look at what is critical and what needs to be taken care of first and see how we can do these things,” she said.

 

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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 kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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