Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 12, 2013

Editorial: TCAPS bond requests reflect voter feedback

After a $100 million bond issue took a beating at the polls in November, the Traverse City Area Public Schools board of education gave itself a homework assignment: find out what voters liked and didn’t like about the request; and figure how to package any future requests in a way that will meet district needs but also ensure voter support.

They got an earful. And so far, it appears the district has taken much of that criticism to heart. Whether that translates into voter approval in the fall - if the district decides to go back to voters - is yet to be seen.

Administrators last week proposed breaking the $100 million November proposal into two pieces. A final decision on how to package any requests won’t come until June.

The first would be a $35 million, 0.27-mill proposal for reconstruction at Interlochen, Eastern and Glenn Loomis elementary schools, bus and technology replacements and security upgrades at Central High School and West Middle School.

The second would be a $13-million, 0.09-mill proposal for auditorium reconstruction at Central High School.

The proposals - for a total $48 million versus the $100 million sought last year - would cost the owner of a home with a $100,000 taxable value about $27 and $9 per year.

Much of the savings would come from a proposal to delay for three to four years major renovations at Central Grade School. Doing that would also shorten the overall timeline for completion of the proposed projects to six years, something voters told pollsters they would support.

The board appears to be divided on including work on Central Grade as part of the larger bond. A telephone survey showed nearly 75 percent of registered voters either supported or leaned toward supporting those renovations, a number that is hard to ignore.

But the 80-year-old grade school building is an expensive proposition. Needed work includes replacing the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems plus gutting and replacing the entire third floor. A full makeover could cost $23 million to $26 million.

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