MCC superintendent: Voting no didn’t solve the issues

December 19, 2023

MCC High School

MCC superintendent: Voting no didn’t solve the issues

School board begins new bond discussions

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — Voting no in the recent school election didn’t solve the issues of aging buildings and crumbling streets. In fact, it’s only prolonging the problem and will now cost more in the future to make repairs. This is the message that Mason County Central Superintendent Jeff Mount conveyed to the Board of Education, and the public, when the board met in work session Monday evening to start discussing the next bond proposal.

“We aren’t going to stop asking,” Mount said. “The high school is a 64 year old building that has issues that need addressing. Scottville Elementary is a 72 year old building. The middle school is almost 50 years old. Our streets on the school campus are literally crumbling. While we will fix some of the low hanging fruit with money from our fund balance, that really isn’t the wisest way to handle the taxpayers’ money.”

Mount said the school district is currently operating with a 17 percent fund balance. While the Michigan Department of Education recommends a minimum of a 10 percent fund balance, MCC’s fund balance is below the state average, Mount said.

“Our fund balance is much better than it was in the past,” Mount said. “There were times when it was below 1 percent and we didn’t know how we were going to make payroll. While it’s improved, it’s not enough to meet the infrastructure needs of the district.”

Last summer the district was able to repair the roofs of all five of its school buildings at a cost of $1.2 million. The money used for the repairs came from the federal government’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) that were distributed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Those funds saved our local taxpayers $1.2 million and allowed us to make some much needed room repairs,” Mount said. “Anyone who owns a building understands that you have to start repairs with the roofs. Our high school, especially, has had a bad roof for many years which has caused water damage in many parts of the building. While we now have the roofs repaired, we still need the funds to make the other repairs.”

Those repairs would have been paid for had Proposal 1 passed in November. It was defeated 884-901.

Proposal 1 funds would also have paid for much needed safety and security upgrades to the district’s buildings, meeting standards that are being adopted throughout the country.

The millage vote was the third time in two years that MCC has tried to get support from its taxpayers to repair and update the school’s buildings.

A second proposal, Proposal 2, asked for the construction of an auditorium. That was defeated 633-1,143. In the previous two millage requests, there was only one proposal that called for basically the same items lumped together. Ironically, those millages lost to smaller margins than Proposal 2 by itself.

The Board of Education held a work session Monday to talk about the future and agreed by consent that in the future another bond will be requested.

“What our taxpayers need to also understand is that the 2006 debt continues to drop and had we passed this most recent millage, or a future millage, they will ultimately be paying less in millage than they have over the last 20 years. But, while nobody likes to pay taxes, we have a responsibility to ensure that the children of our school district receive a quality education. They also deserve to be safe.”

The board’s building and grounds committee will meet next and start accessing the district’s needs, again. Mount said it’s unlikely a vote will take place until at least the August 2024 primary election or the November 2024 Presidential Election.

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