MCC: Vote yes on Tuesday for our community’s kids

May 1, 2023

MCC Upper Elementary, opened in 2007

MCC: Vote yes on Tuesday for our community’s kids

Editorial by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, May 2, voters in the Mason County Central School District will go to the polls to decide if the district voters are willing to invest in better school building security, better traffic safety, and facility upgrades that bring the school up to modern educational standards. 

It may sound cliche that the vote is about our children, but that is exactly what Tuesday is about. It is about the children who currently attend the school and about the children who will attend the school in generations to come. It is about giving our children a reason to stay in our community so they can raise their families in the MCC. It is also about keeping our children safe and alive. 

MCC is asking voters to approve a tax increase of 1.6 mills, which will generate $31.54 million. This will bring the school’s millage to 4.02 mills. That is about same rate that district taxpayers were paying in 2014. It is also right in the middle compared to other area school districts: Ludington, 5.75 mills; Hart, 4.49 mills, Kaleva Norman Dickson, 4.15 mills, Walkerville, 3.4 mills and Shelby, 3.64 mills and Manistee is 4.40 mills.. 

What does that mean in actual dollars to the average taxpayer? If you own a home that has been assessed with a taxable value of $50,000, this will cost you an additional $6.67 a month. A mill is taxed at $1 per $1,000 taxable value. This means that your total investment in the children of the school district would cost you (at that $50,000 taxable value), just under $17 a month total. 

What is the 2.42 mills paying for? That is the debt incurred with the 2006 bond that paid for the building of the Upper Elementary, major renovations to the Middle School (built in 1976), construction of the High School competition gym, additional classrooms at the High School, and some conversations of A.O. Carlson Gymnasium, along with some other facility upgrades throughout the district. 

Mason County Central’s administration has been good stewards with the taxpayers’ money. In its 66-year history, the district has only made major infrastructure improvements, through bonds, five times, beginning with the passage of a 20-year $955,000 ($9,642,305 adjusted for inflation in 2022) bond proposal — approved on April 24, 1957 by a vote of 601-383 — that included the construction of a new high school, completed in 1959, and classroom expansions at Scottville Elementary and Victory Elementary, completed in fall of 1957. 

In fact, the school is been very prudent at watching interest rates and refinancing when appropriate, which has resulted in lower millage rates. 

Read more here about the history of the school’s bond proposals over the years.

What will the additional 1.6 mills pay for? 

The major parts of the bond will include safety and security upgrades at each of the district’s five buildings: the High School, Middle School, Upper Elementary, Scottville Elementary and Victory Earl Childhood Center. Each building will see renovations to their entrances, which will require visitors to walk directly into the building’s office. Currently, each building is equipped with a buzzer that has a camera on it. But, once the visitor is allowed in the building, that person has access to the entire building. 

The purpose behind re-directing access to the building is to create another barrier for that “bad guy” from getting into the building. This is the same access point that now exists at the newly constructed Ludington Elementary School and will be exist once renovations are completed at Ludington High School and the Ludington Area School District’s O.J. DeJonge Middle School. Scottville area voters, don’t our children deserve the same sense of security? 

Additionally, the buildings will get major window diets. Currently, there is way too much glass on the exterior and interior of the buildings. Glass is pretty but it is also an easy way for a gunman to blast his way into a building. That may sound harsh but it’s a modern fact of life at our schools. 

The bond will also pay for much needed renovations in the High School. If you attended MCC, you are familiar with the various hallways of the school. Over the years, there have been some additional classrooms, but the school’s primary hall, B Hall, has had very little updates since it opened in 1959! While the school has done its best to maintain the building, the district operated for many years with very little extra funds to invest in repairs, choosing instead to assure that staff and faculty were paid with decent wages and benefits. 

The bond will also include some repairs and updates at the other buildings, including some new playground equipment at the elementary schools. 

While a lot of emphasis has been placed on safety inside the buildings, the bond also addresses safety outside the buildings, particularly with vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The inner campus is in need of re-design, making student drop off and pick up safer. The street infrastructure is also in need of major repairs. I cannot tell you how many times I have nearly been hit by a car while walking my kids to school. It actually almost happened today.

Finally, the bond will pay for the construction of an auditorium, also being called a community events center. For the past 65 years, performing arts students have had to use the stage at the end of the A.O. Carlson Gym. The gym serves as an auxiliary gym and is shared between the arts and athletics. It is a model that was outdated over 50 years ago. 

The auditorium will be a facility that not only serves students, but will also serve the community. It will be used daily as a classroom and will allow the school to host performing arts events that will bring people into our community. Into Scottville. Scottville, a town that needs to be revitalized. Think economic development. This is an investment into your community. 

You may have noticed that I clearly am in favor of this vote. I make no apology for my bias. I am a third generation Spartan. My grandfather graduated from Scottville High School in 1929. My father, graduated from MCC High School in 1960 (the first class to attend an entire school year in the new high school). I graduated in 1988. But, what’s most important, is that my children will eventually graduate from MCC High School. They, along with the other children of our school district, deserve to be in the safest, best facilities we can provide for them. 

Someone paid for our education and now it’s time we invest in our children and future generations. 

Please, vote yes on Tuesday!

Editor’s Note: Mason County Press has provided all advertising and promotional material of the Vote Yes for MCC campaign as an in-kind donated service. 

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