MCC to seek 1.95 mill request in May election. 

December 8, 2021

Possible auditorium configuration.

MCC to seek 1.95 mill request in May election. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — Mason County Central Schools is officially seeking a bond request from the voters to approve a 1.95 mills increase to repair facilities, build a performing arts center and put artificial turf at Spartan Community Field. If passed, the bond will raise $33.6 million. The Board of Education met Wednesday, Dec. 8, in a special meeting. 

During the meeting, the board was presented with three options to consider: A “total” proposal sought 1.95 mills and included all items that were created through community surveys and forums over the past year. Option “A” was a 1.84 mills request that included all the items except the artificial turf at the football field. Option “B” was a separate proposal seeking .11 mill to fund the artificial turf at the field. 

Superintendent Jeff Mount explained the board had the option of seeking the total of 1.95 mills, or seeking just option A, just option B, or both option A and B as separate ballot proposals. 

After about an hour of discussion the board voted unanimously to seek the “total” option. 

Highlights of the bond proposal will include the construction of a performing arts center, new high school administrative offices, renovation of “B” hall in the high school (an area of the school that has seen little updating since the building was opened in 1959), re-paving of many of the school campus streets and parking lots, security updates to all school buildings, updates at the school bus garage on US 10 in Custer Township, updates to the Scottville Area Senior Center in downtown Scottville, construction of bathrooms and a concession stand on the “home” side of Spartan Community Field, turfing the football field, among some other projects.”

One of the options that were discussed in a public forum in October of this year, moving the Scottville Area Senior Center, which is funded by the school, from downtown Scottville to the high school complex, has been removed from the proposal. 

Instead, Superintendent Jeff Mount said repairs may take place at the senior center and programming will be offered at high school facilities. 

“This is a proposal that puts kids and our citizens first,” Mount said, adding that the district has not sought a millage increase since 2006. 

“With the 2006 bond, we updated security in the high school, middle school, Victory Early Childhood Center, and Scottville Elementary, plus we built the Upper Elementary,” Mount has said. “Since that time, we have learned a lot about security and safety.” 

Mount said each building’s primary entry would be updated to require visitors to enter the main office before being allowed into the rest of the building. 

“These are measures that have been studied and proven to deter any threats to the schools,” Mount said. 

Mount said safety elements also include pedestrian and traffic safety.

“We are very concerned not only about the actual state of our streets and sidewalks but also the traffic flow on campus,” Mount said. “While drop-off and pick-up times happen in a short period of time, there is a tremendous amount of activity happening during that time. One of the biggest areas of concern is the area near the upper elementary. We are hoping that traffic flow can be improved in this area to make it safer.” 

Several board members agreed that updates at the high school were among the highest priorities. 

“In 2006 we made a lot of improvements to the high school,” Mount said. “We built a new gym, added what is called ‘D’ hall on the south side of the building and improved some classrooms along ‘C’ hall on the west side of the building. But, much of the rest of the building remains its original 1950s state. This is a high priority to get this building up to the 21st century.” 

The majority of the high school’s classrooms have seen little updating in 60 years. In the 1990s the band room was updated and in 2006 A.O. Carlson Gymnasium was converted to a multi-use space to include performances. Much of that updating is now outdated as well. 

Mount added that the conversion of the A.O. Carlson Gym, named after founding superintendent Arnold O. Carlson, was never an ideal solution to meeting the needs of quality performing arts studies. 

“At the end of the day, it’s a stage at the end of a gym,” Mount said. “Our students deserve more. We have produced some amazing students who have gone on to have incredible careers in the arts. I think it’s time we up the quality.” 

The request for millage in May 2022 would technically be a millage renewal for 25 years. In 2006, the voters of MCC approved a $16.9 million bond that built the upper elementary and made improvements to several other facilities (see information below). That millage continues to drop every year as debt is paid off. In 2015, the millage rate was 4.19 mills, this year it is 3.33 mills and in 2022 it will be 2.74. The board of education likely will request an increase of 1.95 mills, bringing the millage rate up to 4.47 mills, which is just slightly higher than what property owners were paying in 2015. The rate of 1.95 mills would cost a homeowner with a home valued at $100,000, an additional $97.50 per year or $8.13 per month.

The millage rate would be comparable to neighboring school districts. Shelby Public Schools passed a bond earlier this year bringing its rate from 1.32 to 4.96 mills. Manistee also passed a bond increasing its millage from 2.25 to 4.9 mills. Pentwater’s November millage proposal, if passed, would bring its rate from 2.85 mills to 4.05. Ludington Area Schools millage rate is currently 5.75 mills. 

“We aren’t asking for everything,” Mount said. “We don’t need to have the highest tax rate. We just want our kids to have the best opportunities they can have.” 

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