Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 18, 2013

Elk Rapids school renovations, security on ballot

ELK RAPIDS — Elk Rapids school administrators are asking voters to approve up to $10.88 million in tax bonds that would be used to upgrade athletic facilities and increase security in all the schools.

The 0.83 mills is estimated to cost taxpayers $83 a year on a home with a taxable value of $100,000.

“In general, school complexes and facilities are made to last 40 to 50 years, and then you have to either have some pretty significant renovation in terms of retrofitting, with everything from data wiring to lighting and you name it, and so we’re at a point now where this building and this gym is 43, 44 years old and we’re in that critical window where we have to do something,” said Elk Rapids High School principal Michael Travis.

The majority of the project costs — an estimated $6.9 million — would go to building a new high school gymnasium, weight room and wrestling/multipurpose room, as well as updating the music room, counseling, and online education areas.

All of the plans and cost estimates are tentative, and the project needs a majority of votes in the Nov. 5 election to move forward. The renovations, if approved, are slated to be completed by the fall of 2015.

The project would bring the Elk Rapids debt millage to a total of 2.31, well below a state average of 4.63.

The new gymnasium would enable multiple teams to hold practices at once, eliminating competition among teams for the same practice times. As it is now, teams from the elementary school on up schedule practices all evening long, sometimes going past 9 p.m.

“What makes the most sense for us, with 20 sports and over 30 teams, so that we can keep the focus on academics?” Travis said. “We need to have more practice facility space so our kids aren’t practicing until 10 o’clock at night, which impacts their study time, it impacts their sleep time, and overall it will be a better experience for them.”

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