MCC may consider bond to address facility needs.

March 18, 2021

MCC may consider bond to address facility needs.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — Mason County Central Schools may consider asking voters to renew a portion of its current bond to fund some much needed building and grounds repairs, along with the possibility of building an auditorium. Superintendent Jeff Mount discussed the topic with the board of education during its regular meeting Monday, March 15. 

Mount said in an interview Wednesday that he brought the topic up as a point of discussion and the six board members attending the meeting were in favor of exploring the topic. 

The next step will be to begin conducting community forums and create a plan of the district’s needs, Mount said. The last community forum held to discuss facility needs was in January 2016. During that time, the citizens who attended the meeting creating a list of items that needed to be considered. That list included building an auditorium, fixing the heating/cooling systems in several school building, re-paving the streets and parking lots on school property, resurfacing the track at Spartan Community Field, replacing the football field with artificial turf, replacing furniture, building a dedicated weight room, investing in more classroom technology, replacing the transportation office, and improving the school’s security and safety needs. 

Since that time, several of those items have been addressed. In 2016, the school hired Honeywell, an energy efficiency firm, to conduct an energy efficiency study of the school which resulted in a major updating of the heating and cooling systems at the school’s buildings. 

“This was a move that really prepared us to keep school going safely during this pandemic,” Mount said. “The Honeywell project included the installation of filtering systems and oxygen sensors that have been a blessing.”

The school also resurfaced the track and has moved forward with building a weight room in the location of the old wood shop, through donations from the community. Mount said the school’s internet bandwidth is currently at 10 gigabytes, which is enough to prepare it for the future. The school has also made other technology investments such as the purchase of hundreds of Chromebooks to be used for remote learning.

A grassroots group of citizens, alumni, and staff approached Mount beginning in 2018 to discuss the building of an auditorium. MCC is the only school district within the current West Michigan Conference that does not have an auditorium. Neighboring districts similar in size or slightly larger, have auditoriums. Since the high school was built in 1957, performing arts events have taken place in the A.O. Carlson Gymnasium. While that space was updated in 2006 when the new high school gym was built, it is still used as a multi-purpose facility. Ironically, MCC is one of the few districts in WMC that offers a drama class and has a forensics team. 

An auditorium was initially proposed in the 2006 bond that resulted in the building of the Upper Elementary building, expansion of Scottville Elementary, and additions of classrooms to the high school, which included a new gym. The auditorium proposal was removed, however, when the millage was defeated. The millage later passed without the auditorium.

The citizens group proposed the auditorium be connected to the high school and be built to the south of the high school band room. 

Mount said if such a build was to happen, it would likely include renovating the high school’s administrative offices, which have seen little updating since the school was built in 1957. Other areas of the high school that are in need of major updating are the northern and western hallways known as “B” and “C” halls, respectively. While the 2006 bond included additions to classrooms in those halls, very little was done to the actual corridor.

“Much of that building is still in its original 1957 state,” Mount said. “We need to bring it up to the 21st century.” The school’s library, located in “B” hall is in major need of updating, Mount added. 

The MCC Education Foundation has been raising funds the past several years to assist in updating the library but much of those updates would be focused on equipment and furniture rather than physical updates to the room itself, Mount said. 

Safety would also be an area where a bond could help fund, Mount said. 

“MCC has taken the lead in school safety but there are many other things that could be done to take it to the next level,” Mount said. “Our schools have also taken many steps toward security but there are many other things that could be done, such as addition of more cameras, better entry and lock down systems.” 

Mount said it’s likely that if a bond is put on the ballot it will happen during the November election. He said this bond would technically be a renewal of the 2006 bond, but at a much lower rate. Currently, MCC’s bond is at 3.47 mills. The renewal would likely be in the range of 1.07 mills, Mount said. 

“We need to get the pulse of the public and then decide how to move forward,” Mount said, adding that community forums will begin within the next month. 

 

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