MCC board to hold special meeting, take action on bonds application.

January 6, 2022

Superintendent Jeff Mount discusses the proposal.

MCC board to hold special meeting, take action on bonds application.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

SCOTTVILLE — Mason County Central Schools Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 to take action on a resolution to approve a preliminary qualification of bonds application. The action is the next step toward moving toward asking the voters of the school district to approve a 1.95 mill increase to pay for renovations and improvements on school facilities, along with the construction of a performing arts center. The meeting was initially scheduled for today but was postponed due to weather. 

In early December the board of education voted to proceed with the millage request, which would raise $33.6 million. Though the initial request is for an increase, it is technically a renewal of the bond that already exists and was approved by voters in 2006, the last time MCC sought a millage change. 

Highlights of the bond proposal will include safety and security enhancements in all school buildings, 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, 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 was 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, was 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. 

Security and safety are two major components of the bond request. 

“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,” Superintendent Jeff Mount 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.” 

Improvements to the high school are also a major part of the request. 

“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. While the space is adequate, it provides nowhere near the quality of an actual performing arts center. Mount said an option to totally convert the Carlson Gym into an auditorium was explored, but the costs would be close to building a new facility. In addition, the Carlson gym also serves as an auxiliary gym for the school, meaning that it would then need to build a new auxiliary gym, which would then cost more than the total cost of building a performing arts center and updating the Carlson for athletic purposes. 

“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 proposed performing arts center would seat about 650 patrons and would be located on the southeast side of the high school, adjacent to the band room. Its construction would also mean the demolition of the present administrative offices and building of new administrative offices, another area of the school that hasn’t been updated since the building was built in 1959. 

The request for millage in May 2022 would 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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