ELK RAPIDS — A few days to wait was worth it when the good news finally came through.
The good news? Upgrades and renovations are coming to Elk Rapids Public Schools.
Sheryl Guy, the Antrim County clerk, suspected the delay in results was an equipment malfunction. But partial numbers were released early Thursday evening, showing Antrim voters passed the district initiative at a more than 2-to-1 margin
The unofficial tally stood at 3,017-1,438 as of Friday afternoon.
The 30-year, $50 million bond proposal will improve two elementary schools as well as the middle school and high school during the next five to seven years.
Elk Rapids Superintendent Julie Brown, who officially took over the district Oct. 5, said the voters’ support of the school system is encouraging. Brown, an Elk Rapids alum, is excited to oversee the projects and to “help build the future for the district.”
“We’re doing so much with so little. Now, let’s give our kids the best,” Brown said.
Cherryland Middle School and the high school will receive the biggest improvements.
The oldest wings at Cherryland will be rebuilt along with construction of a learning commons area and new classrooms. Some high school classrooms will be renovated and others will be updated.
Lakeland Elementary will get improvements to classrooms, restroom upgrades, a refinished gym floor, repaved parking lots among other projects. Mill Creek Elementary will get mechanical system upgrades, new furniture, playground enhancements and a new storage facility.
A new gymnasium will be built along with four tennis courts and improvements to the school’s performing arts infrastructure.
Brown said the most pushback she got from voters was about the new gym. They felt it was an unnecessary expense.
But Brown explained to them that Elk Rapids girl athletes do not have the same access to facilities as the boys. That is a Title IX violation, Brown said, so a new gym is a necessity.
“We need that,” Brown said. “Not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
Brown said getting that information out to voters was the reason the proposal passed.
Trisha Moore was one of the residents trying to get the word out as part of the committee to support the bond. Moore said she is looking forward to the new “21st century learning spaces and not a building that’s 70 years old.”
“We can give our students the opportunity to learn in a school that meets today’s needs,” Moore said.
More was cautiously optimistic heading into the election, but there was some doubt after recent school bond proposals from Benzie and Kingsley struggled to gain traction with voters. Benzie County Central Schools just got the thumbs up from voters Tuesday after failing three times before. Kingsley Area Schools has not gone back to the voters since its measure failed in May 2019.
“Our community believed and saw the need,” Moore said.