Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 13, 2013

Schools on ballot

TRAVERSE CITY — Todd Vipond needs time, materials and space to teach to curricular standards parents expect at Traverse City Area Public Schools.

The first two items are no problem, said Vipond, a music teacher at Eastern Elementary School. The last — space — is more elusive.

Vipond’s music room isn’t strictly his own. It doubles as an art classroom.

“What I do is all about the space,” Vipond said while standing in the doorway of his shared classroom one morning last week. “Many of our buildings, this is only one of them, the rooms have to pull double duty. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

Space shortages, cramped and poorly designed classrooms, and outdated infrastructure are commonplace at Eastern, Glenn Loomis and Interlochen elementary schools. That could change, pending the outcome of a $35.2-million, .2-mill TCAPS millage question slated to appear on the November ballot.

Reconstruction projects at the three elementary buildings are a core component of the tax increase proposal that also would fund school security improvements at Central High School and West Middle School, bus and technology replacements and a few lesser capital projects.

The measure would cost the owner of a home worth $200,000 in market value about $20 per year in additional taxes.

The cost of complete rebuilds at each of the elementary locations will range between $10 million and $11 million, district records show.

It’s an investment needed to bring three of TCAPS’ most rundown schools up to par with the district’s more modern facilities, school officials said. Without it, students, staff and parents of those schools will continue to endure the oddities of three facilities originally built more than a generation ago.

‘Hole-in-the-wall’ setup

Interlochen Community School is the oldest of the three elementary facilities poised to receive a total makeover. The original building dates to 1950, and an addition was built at the school about 25 years ago.

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