MCC pursuing new bond proposal

January 4, 2023

MCC High School 2022

MCC pursuing new bond proposal

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — The Mason County Central Board of Education recently voted to move forward with a new bond request from the voters. The proposal is asking for approval, during the school election on May 2, of 1.6 mills which will generate $31.54 million to pay for facility and infrastructure repairs and construction. 

“Our high school is in desperate need of upgrades,” said Superintendent Jeff Mount. “The majority of A and B halls are still in original condition from when the building was opened in 1958. While I believe we have been good stewards over the years to all our buildings, we cannot keep up with the decay of this building without some major investment. For example, currently the heating system of A.O. Carlson Gymnasium, the school’s original gym, is in need of replacement, which is about $25,000. There is currently no heat in that facility.” 

Mount said all five of the districts school buildings – the high school, middle school, upper elementary, lower elementary and Victory Early Childhood Center — are in need of safety and security upgrades. These upgrades would include new, secured entrances that require guests to enter into the administrative office before entering into the rest of the building. Street repairs are also needed throughout the Scottville campus, Mount said. 

In addition, the bond would raise funds to build a community performing arts center which will not only serve the school but the entire Scottville area. 

In May 2022 voters defeated a 1.95 mills request, 826-593, which would have generated $33,636,000.

Mount said district officials have since been out in the community talking to residents about what they would like to see and not see in the upcoming bond proposal. He said one of the items that has been removed from the new proposal, which was on the previous proposal, is artificial turf for the football field. Additionally, the performing arts center project has been scaled back. 

“In order to provide a performance venue that would serve the needs of the district and the community, we didn’t want to reduce the seating capacity of the facility, which would be about 600,” Mount said. “Instead, we scaled back on some other areas and would incorporate some of our existing space. For example, set-building facilities would likely be the old A.O. Carlson Gym stage area. The new facility wouldn’t have dressing rooms, instead those would also be the existing dressing rooms that used to be the girls’ locker room in the Carlson Gym.” The new facility cost would be over $1 million reduction compared to the previous proposal. 

Mount said, if the bond were to pass, the performing arts center would be the last phase of a three phase bond purchase. The first purchase, of $10.75 million, would take place this year and would raise the funds to repair facilities and improve safety and security. It would also include building a new restroom facility between the baseball field and the home side of the football field, along with addressing Spartan Community Field drainage issues. The second phase would generate $4.67 million and would be a continuation of building repairs. The third phase, which wouldn’t happen until 2027, would raise $16.12 million and would mostly pay for the performing arts center.

High school B Hall boys’ bathroom has seen very little updates since it was built 77 years ago.

“In last year’s proposal, the performing arts center would have been part of the first phase. This time, that was reversed, which allowed for a reduced millage. If we had kept it that way, the millage would have been 2 mills instead of 1.6 mills. That’s an incredible savings and very encouraging.”

“We have heard a lot of positive feedback throughout the community about a performing arts center,” Mount said. “People recognize that this facility not only has a tremendous educational value to our students but also would be an economical development boost to the Scottville.

The Hart community, for example, has had a lot of success with concert series at their school’s performing arts center. When people come to performances, they also want to eat at restaurants and shop in town. This would be a valuable investment to rebuilding our town. It is also an essential facility in preparing our students for successful careers.” 

Mount said one of the major challenges with the previous election was apathy amongst voters. “During last May’s election, of the 700 eligible parent voters in the district, only 124 came out to vote. This is just way too small of a number. We really need parents to visit our facilities and understand the needs to upgrade.”

Mount said he was scheduled to meet with the Michigan Department of Treasury today, which is a procedure required when a school district or municipality intends to seek voters’ approval for a bond. 

During its 67 year history, Mason County Central School District has only had five facility bonds. See related story here. After the district was formed in 1956, when the rural school districts consolidated, the district quickly outgrew its, then 77-year-old high school (which still exists on North Main Street). Voters approved a millage in 1957 to build a new high school (Scottville Elementary was built in 1951 and Victory Early Childhood Center – previously Victory Elementary, was built in 1956). Construction of that building was completed mid-way through the 1958-1959 school year. The old high school was used as a junior high school until 1976 when the middle school was built. 

A 1992 bond aw the renovations of portions of the high school including C Hall and the band room. Spartan Community Field was built after a bond was passed in 1997. 

The last bond millage took place in 2006. At that time, voters approved a 20 year $16.9 million bond that included the construction of the upper elementary and major construction at the high school, including a new gymnasium, additional classrooms, renovated cafeteria, a new Central Business Office, and conversion of A.O. Carlson Gymnasium to a multi-purpose facility. New offices were constructed at Scottville Elementary and the middle school, along with other building updates in both buildings. 

“Our high school is 65-years-old,” Mount said. “Our lower elementary is 72-years-old. It’s been a generation since our last building was built. The people who first attended school at the middle school in 1976 are now grandparents. But, during that time, we have taken care of our buildings and our district works within its means, keeping a balanced budget. We are now asking the voters to invest in the current generation and future generations so their grandchildren can also have quality facilities.”  


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