Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 8, 2013

Central Grade School among bond decisions

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools’ Board of Education members have some key questions to mull before deciding what bond initiatives, if any, to place on this year’s November ballot.

Chief among those questions is whether to pursue funds for major renovation plans at Central Grade School this fall, or if it’s better to wait three or four years to pitch that project to voters.

TCAPS administrators recommended delaying the Central Grade proposal when they briefed the board on the size and scope of possible 2013 millages during a meeting Monday night, but some board members said now is as good a time as any, given documented public support for the project.

“Personally, I would rather ask that question now and let the community decide what they want to support,” board member Megan Crandall said.

Results from a scientific phone survey conducted by Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants as part of the district’s review of last year’s bond showed nearly 75 percent of registered voters in the district either supported or leaned toward supporting Central Grade School renovations.

Crandall called the elementary a “crown jewel” of the district based on its history, central location in Traverse City, 600-student population and potential flexibility to hold additional TCAPS programs.

But the roughly 80-year-old school needs major work, including, but not limited to, replacing the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, said Paul Mahon, TCAPS’ director of capital projects and maintenance.

The third floor of the elementary school, which is currently unused, also needs to be gutted and replaced. District officials estimate the full school makeover will cost between $23 million and $26 million.

Construction at Central Grade School would not begin for six to eight years if voters approve the project along with other capital improvement plans on TCAPS’ agenda.

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