District seeks bond for building improvements

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
Brandon School District has a bond on the March 10, 2020 ballot. The bond will deal with improvements to all of the buildings, costing a total of $19.5 million across all four buildings.
“Just like our own homes, our buildings need to be maintained,” said Dr. Matt Outlaw, district superintendent “The district has millions of dollars of repairs and upgrades that need to be addressed over the next 5 years.”
The bond would levy .83 mills, an increase to the current 12.16 mills. That equals out to $83 per year for a home worth $200,000. The last tax levy was in 2006 when voters agreed to 8.24 mills, which increased to 13 mills due to the housing market crash. Through refinancing, the district was able to lower it to the current 12.16. The maximum millage rate allowed by the state is 13 mills.

“We have addressed so many issues without assistance, but we are at a point where we need the community’s financial support,” said Outlaw. “We want the best for the children in the Ortonville-Brandon community. In order to best prepare them for success in the 21st century, our buildings need to be taken care of.”
The projects that would be addressed by the bond include:
-Upgrading the old and outdated playgrounds at Harvey Swanson and the preschool.
-Some upgrades to the Oakwood playground
-21st century technology in the Middle School STEM Lab
-Modernizing at the at the High School STEM Lab
-Replacement of old technology
-Replacement of old and outdated band instruments
-Baseball field upgrades as the current varsity field is eroding into Kearsly Creek
-BHS greenhouse restoration
-Community Pool scoreboard, which is outdated and poorly functioning
-Construction of new bathrooms in the Performing Arts Center area, as no bathrooms are built in that area.
-Replacing fencing on Varsity Drive
-Replacing fencing at the preschool playground.
-Replacing flooring/carpet
-Leveling the choir room floor
-Remodeling the current library to be a 21st century media center
-Locker replacement at Harvey Swanson
-Locker room upgrades at BHS
-New grass and drainage for the soccer field, as poor grass conditions are leading to more injuries
-Outdoor restrooms attached to the ITEC Center at the middle school for athletic use, as there are no outdoor restrooms despite heavy athletic use in the area.
-Making the sidewalk to the bleachers from the soccer concessions handicap accessible
-Replacing the fence at the track and field on Varsity Drive
-Replacing the gymnasium PA system as it is poorly functioning
-Restoration of the BHS court yard, which is not functional
-Resurfacing the Varsity Drive track, which is dangerous for running currently.
-Upgrading classroom furniture at Harvey Swanson
-Upgrading enterances at Harvey Swanson, as the building is 70 years old
-Replacing the weight room flooring.
-Security upgrades, including exterior cameras, to all school buildings
-Roof repair based on roofing inspection recommendations at Harvey Swanson, BMS and BHS
-Parking lot replacement at Harvery Swanson and Oakwood
-Parking lot repairs at BHS and BMS
-AC compressor at BMS
-AC roof top air handlers at BHS and Harvey Swanson
-Athletic stadium turf replacement at BHS, as the lifespan of the turf is 11 years and it has been 13 years.
-Community pool roof repair, as well as pool dehumidification, which is the cause of the roof issues.
-Aquatic center PA system
-Community pool mechanical upgrades
-Replacement of old buses and maintenance tractor
-Interior doors and hardware replacement at Harvey Swanson
-Replacement of rusty exterior doors across the district
-Rebuilding an exterior wall at BHS
-Replacing the main gym bleacher motors at BHS
-Resurfacing the track at the athletic stadium, which must be repaired periodically.
While in past years, the district has consolidated and sold buildings, closed programs, cut staff and wages and outsourced some programs, the district is at a point where they have exhausted cost-saving options and have $11 million in essential projects, that cannot be addressed in a year-to-year budget.
“We need our buildings to remain safe and secure,” said Outlaw.
More information on the bond can be found at www.brandonschooldistrict.org/index.php/brandon-school-district-bond-2020 including a frequently asked questions list. For any other questions about the bond, feel free to contact Dr. Outlaw at moutlaw@brandon.k12.mi.us or attend one of two community forums at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 21 or Feb. 18 at the ITEC Center at Brandon Middle School.