Farwell approves language for November bond proposal

August 16, 2019

By Pat Maurer

In a 5-1 vote Monday evening the Farwell Board of Education approved the November ballot language for the $20.1 bond proposal.

Board President Joe Maxey and members: Trustee Shari Buccilli, Treasurer Jade Campbell, Trustee Bill Geyer, and Vice President Kellee Robinson approved the motion. Board Secretary Angelina Smith voted no, and Trustee John Gross was absent.

The estimated millage for the bonds in the first year is 3 mills, a .9 mill increase over the district’s present bond which expires this fall. Over the life of the bond the average millage will be 2.76.

If approved by the district voters, the funds will pay for comprehensive Elementary School upgrades including playground equipment and fencing, a parking/parking entrance, demolishing the 1949 (Teachout) wing and, and building six new classrooms; replacing 18 aging boilers with four new ones; mechanical and control upgrades to the buildings; roof replacement in the Elementary, Middle and High Schools; district-wide safety and security upgrades; resurfacing the HS gym floor; and replacing MS flooring.

Other needs are an improved JPAC drop off and pick up; district wide public address system upgrades; replacing windows and doors; exterior LED lighting; district-wide clock upgrades and additions; bus garage improvements; Timberland improvements; sports complex improvements and repair and resurfacing of the track, a new ticket booth, fence, well pressure tank and a new electrical shed.

The original plan to remodel the Elementary building’s East Wing, built in 1954, won’t be included in the new bond issue, although Superintendent Steve Scoville said at the last board meeting, “It would have to be addressed in the Board’s Long Range Plan.”

Savings generated from the renovations, guaranteed by Johnson Controls, will be the beginning of a fund for maintenance and future improvements.
Scoville said last month, “The new reduced bond proposal was created as a result of two community forums in May and June. Community input helped to structure a bond that accomplishes many of the school district’s immediate critical needs – in fewer years – with less interest.”

He continued, “The priorities for the bond remain: safety, security, improved educational spaces and system efficiencies. This is a good compromise – it addresses many of our immediate critical needs, but does it in a manner that has a lesser impact on our taxpayers.”

At a special meeting Friday, June 7th, the Farwell Board of Education voted 5-1 to pursue the 2.1 mill bond renewal with a .9 mill increase for 19 years and three months in the November election. If approved by voters the proposal was expected to raise over $19 million to address the district’s needs.

Because of an increased tax base, the renewal of the present bond millage plus an additional .9 mills will raise $20,100,000 over the 19 year time frame.

“The new proposal cuts off nearly $8 million ($7,943,896) in interest from the May proposal,” Scoville added.

In another matter, Scoville reported on the cost, and progress of the installation of new fiber optic cable from Clare to the school.

The contract with Charter Spectrum for their fiber optic line expired in July.

Last September the Farwell Board of Education voted to approve the low bid-estimate of $136,970 from AmComm, Inc. to build a new Farwell Schools owned fiber connection from Farwell to Clare Schools and connect to the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District.

AmComm reported that the actual build would be a matter of weeks but that the time for the build depended on the Consumer’s Energy approval, fees and pole inspections.

The new build will be a 12 fiber line. The school used four lines to connect with the Charter Spectrum line.

Scoville said the project, Fiber Connection to the Clare Gladwin RESD network, is “behind schedule and now over budget.” He explained, “The difficulties have come with securing the attachment permits to the poles owned by Consumers Energy. This process has taken much longer than anticipated. The cost overruns have resulted from having to alter the route by either installing new poles or core boring greater distances underground.” He said, “The initial cost estimate was $136,970.41. The current cost is $148,577.98. FAS is still waiting one final permit, (crossing the railroad tracks) which could add an additional $3000 to $5000 to the cost of the project. The estimated completion date is now mid to late September. The original target date was the middle of July.”

Other business at the BOE meeting included:
*Accepting the resignations of eight employees: High School English Teacher Jacob Shearer, High School Math Teacher Lynette Lentovich, High School English Teacher Laura Baker, High School English Teacher Holly Mosher, Music Teacher Melissa Sapienza, Paraprofessional Amber Parrish, Bus Driver Michelle Huber and Cross Country Coach Mike Jenkins.

*Approval of new hires including High School English Teacher Bailey Dull, High School English Teacher Stephanie Brown, High School English Teacher Kori Clark-Tuzas, Middle School Football Hunter Turner, and High School Assistant Football Jim Lard.

*Approval of athletic transportation changes including one way trips to events within 35 miles and the elimination of most Saturday trips. The changes exclude football and cross country in the fall and track in the spring.

*Approval of a wrestling co-op program with Beal City.

*Adoption of the NEOLA policy 2410.

*Approval of monthly operational invoices totaling $400,399.96

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