Taking right steps on referendum projects

THE PLYMOUTH SCHOOL BOARD took the first step this month in moving forward with the $31.9 million in renovations, upgrades and additions to district schools approved by voters in the April general election.

The board agreed to borrow $21.9 million in bond anticipation notes to get the design and bidding process underway with the goal of beginning construction in the fall.

The borrowing amounts to a “bridge loan” to get the process started while the district’s bond counsel prepares a bond issue for the full project amount.

What the district doesn’t spend immediately from the bond anticipation notes proceeds it will invest, using those proceeds for later referendum projects and to reduce the total cost of the borrowing.

The present schedule calls for work to begin on an addition and remodeling at the high school this fall, with projects at Fairview and Parkview schools to follow next spring.

The overall goals of the referendum projects are to improve safety and security at all three schools, expand learning opportunities for high school students and provide better access to education, wellness and recreation for students and the community.

The renovations at the high school will include modernizing science classrooms and facilities, renovating and expanding culinary arts classrooms and facilities, and adding health science classrooms and facilities.

All of those would enable the district to continue to train and prepare the workers Plymouth and the area needs, and will need in the future, to keep the economy strong and growing.

The addition to the high school will add an expanded fitness center and girls locker room along with a multi-purpose sports and recreation facility which will be available to and benefit the entire community.

At Fairview and Parkview, the district’s oldest elementary schools, the projects next spring would update some classrooms, add secure entrances to both schools, expand gymnasiums and cafeteria facilities to meet growing needs, and provide modern HVAC in both buildings.

As District Superintendent Dr. Carrie Dassow stated after the referendum was approved by voters in April, “Plymouth has always been a leader in providing great schools. These upgrades will help us to continue offering an outstanding education for our students and our community.”

Voters across the district deserve thanks and credit for seeing and understanding the wisdom of and need for these projects, as well as their willingness to pay the extra cost over as many years as it takes to pay for them.

And district officials and the School Board deserve thanks and credit for making their first priority controlling costs in every reasonable way possible and being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money while continuing to enhance the educational mission of the district.

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Warren Luedke