TRAVERSE CITY — A bond proposal that would pay for a new Elk Rapids high school gymnasium, upgrades to athletic facilities and increased school security throughout the district is back on the ballot.
Voters shot down the proposed $10.88 million tax bond by a narrow margin on Nov. 5, but Elk Rapids administrators and school board members want to give it another go today.
Elk Rapids Superintendent Steve Prissel said parents and community members continued to express their support for the proposal after it was defeated.
“The school board and I discussed what were our next steps. We were strongly encouraged to put it back on the ballot and to put more information back out to community members and voters,” Prissel said.
The project would bring the Elk Rapids debt millage to a total of 2.31, well below the state average of 4.63. The 0.83 mills is estimated to cost taxpayers $83 a year on a home with a taxable value of $100,000.
The bond proposal on the ballot today is exactly the same as what community members voted on in November, Prissel said.
If it passes, an estimated $6.9 million would go toward building a new high school gym, weight room and wrestling/multipurpose room, as well as toward updating the music room, counseling and online education areas.
The gym was last updated in the 1970s when the Elk Rapids graduating class was 55, compared to today’s more than 100 graduates. The gym’s low ceilings hinder volleyball games, and its small space makes it impossible for the school to host tournaments.
Building a new gym would alleviate those issues and provide more space for various sports teams vying for practice space.
About $700,000 of the bond would go to improvements on the soccer and football fields. The money would help build a concession stand, permanent restrooms and better field drainage.
Another focus of the proposal is safety. About $1.5 million would go to increasing security at schools throughout the district. The money would pay for updated security cameras at every entrance and for the installation of a buzzer system at each front door.
Prissel said he’s done as much as he can to better educate the community on the proposal this time around. Although he’s witnessed a lot of support, he’s heard some dissenting arguments, too.
“There’s been a lot of support, but with any ballot you’ll have people who will disagree. What we have been trying to do is trying to inform people as much as possible. It’s going to be their vote,” Prissel said.
Putting the bond proposal on the ballot for the second time is costing the district about $8,000 because it isn’t during a regular election, Prissel said. Administrators and board members wanted to pursue the projects sooner rather than later to try and keep construction costs down, he said.
There is not yet a concrete deadline for when the facility and safety projects would be complete if the proposal passes, but Prissel said he’d like to see them start as soon as possible with the safety modifications taking priority.