Clare County Review & Marion Press

Community urges single school bond proposal

By Pat Maurer

Following a community bond forum, the Clare Board of Education discussed the upcoming bond project at their regular October meeting.
At the board’s July meeting, representatives from Wolgast Derek Rickett and Joe Powers and Steven H. Hoekzema of Tower Pinkster discussed options for a bond issue with the board.
Possible proposals discussed at that meeting included a new high school; renovations to the current high school to serve as a middle school and site improvements.
Powers spoke about three proposals at that meeting:
1.      A new high school, converting the old building to a middle school and accompanying site work.
2.      A new auditorium (only with a new high school).
3.      Both a new high school and new auditorium combined.
At the October BOE meeting, Superintendent James Walter said in his report to the board, “the first community bond forum was held on Tuesday, September 13th, and approximately 3o people attended, listening to a presentation and then sharing their feedback.” He added that he held a morning forum for coaches on September 8th; met with the Rotary Club on September 14th and met with staff on September 19 and October 3rd.
During the agenda “Discussion Items” at the BOE meeting, Walter shared the feedback received [that has] shown that the community would like one proposal instead of two separate proposals. He also noted that the federal government recently raised interest rates, which in turn, affects the amount of money able to be raised for the project.
Board member Susan Atwood thanked Walter for the call. Board President Ben Browning mentioned he has received calls regarding the bond and is glad to see the community is for one proposal instead of two. He stressed that individuals need to invite others to the forums, especially those doubting the project.
Walter reported on additional forums scheduled for October 19th and November 10th at 7 pm in the high school cafeteria.
In another matter, Walter reported on the annual audit. He said, “The only ‘finding’ is once again related to our food service fund balance in excess of the government’s formula, and we will have to submit a ‘spend down’ plan to the state.” He added to the board, “You’ll recall that this was exacerbated by two full years of ‘free’ meals for all students at much higher reimbursement rates.
The audit, conducted by Weinlander Fitzhugh, results showed a net change of $$1,199,210 in the district’s fund balance June 30th. Total revenues were $20,979,660, and total expenditures were $17,923,929, about $1 million less than the previous year. The fund balance at the end of June was $6,521,814.
At the October meeting, the only action item, other than on the Consent Agenda, was the second reading and approval of three revisions to board policies. The first added language to purchasing regarding using a bid cooperative; the second, also regarding cooperative purchasing s the same, emphasizing the processes used by a cooperative to obtain reputable bids; and the third revision was concerning school visitors, specifically recent changes required by amendments approved by the Governor to the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) for technical compliance. It does not substantively affect the administration’s right to impose conditions on visits by such individuals, but changes the level of responsibility for decisions from principals to the superintendent.
Other business included:
*Welcoming new Special Educations teachers Joslin Ouellette and R. J. Suemnick;
*Administrative reports;
*Discussion on Section 98C, a grant to address learning loss. Clare plans to use the grant to support credit protection programs for students.

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